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HPV Load in Cervical Tumors Can Affect Relapse, Survival

Study finds low viral load is a prognostic factor for increased relapse rate and reduced survival

TUESDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Uterine cervical cancer patients with low human papillomavirus (HPV) viral loads in their tumors have a higher risk of cancer relapse after treatment with radiotherapy and exhibit worse disease-free survival, according to a study published online Sept. 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Joo-Young Kim, M.D., of the National Cancer Center in Goyang, Korea, and colleagues looked for HPV DNA in the cervical smears of 169 uterine cervical cancer patients receiving radiotherapy. The HPV viral load was categorized as low or high using the median HPV DNA titer. The researchers developed a model to predict relapse and disease-free survival based on viral load.

The study found patients with lower initial HPV viral load had worse disease-free survival. Other factors associated with poor disease-free survival prognosis were HPV type 18, disease stage, younger patient age, nodal involvement, and histologic grade and type. With the exception of stage, all of these factors also were associated with HPV viral load.

"In conclusion, low initial viral load measured in cervical tumors is a strong independent prognostic factor that influences higher overall relapse rates after radiotherapy and may be used as a prognostic factor for the outcome of radiotherapy in invasive uterine cervical cancer," the authors write.

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