HPV infection linked to increased risk of skin cancer

Jul 09, 2010

HPV infection heightens the risk of developing certain skin cancers and is worsened if people are taking immunosuppression drugs, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal today.

An international team of researchers found that people with several types of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) were more than one and a half times as likely to develop certain skin cancers compared to people with no HPVs.

The most common skin cancers ( and squamous cell carcinoma) are increasing globally and is the main established risk factor.

In addition, HPV infection - of which there are more than 100 types - may play a role in their development. Other types of HPVs are known to cause cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, and penis.

Research so far has identified increased risks for people with skin HPV types called beta HPVs, particularly among organ transplant recipients and people with epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV) - a rare genetic disorder, which leads to warts and malignant skin lesions.

Now researchers, led by Professor Margaret Karagas of the Dartmouth Medical School in the USA, wanted to find more conclusive evidence of a link between beta HPVs and the common skin cancers among the general population.

They studied 2,366 people living in New Hampshire, USA, made up of 663 people with squamous cell carcinoma, 898 people with basal cell carcinoma and 805 healthy controls.

As well as interviewing the study participants, the researchers measured HPV antibodies in blood samples of newly diagnosed and confirmed basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma patients from two periods - July 1993 to June 1995 and July 1997 to March 2000 and matched population controls.

Results showed that people with squamous cell carcinoma, but not basal cell carcinoma, were far more likely to have each of the beta HPV types compared to people in the control group. The likelihood of having squamous cell carcinoma increased as people were found to have more of the HPV types.

For example, people with were 1.4 times more likely to have two to three types of HPV, and 1.7 times more likely to have greater than eight types of HPV compared with the control group.

The researchers also found that people who were long term users of immunosuppressant drugs had more than a three-fold risk of squamous cell in relation to HPV, but with limited statistical precision.

"Given the widespread and growing occurrence of these malignancies, our results raise the possibility of reducing the health and economic burden of these cancers through prevention or treatment of human papillomavirus infection," conclude the authors.

Explore further: Survival differences seen for advanced-stage laryngeal cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers discover scent of skin cancer

Aug 20, 2008

According to new research from the Monell Center, odors from skin can be used to identify basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. The findings, presented at the 236th meeting of the American Chemical Society, ...

Recommended for you

Survival differences seen for advanced-stage laryngeal cancer

59 minutes ago

The five-year survival rate for advanced-stage laryngeal cancer was higher than national levels in a small study at a single academic center performing a high rate of surgical therapy, including a total laryngectomy (removal ...

Gene test aids cancer profile

10 hours ago

The first round of chemotherapy did little to suppress Ron Bose's leukemia. The second round, with 10 times the dose, knocked the proliferating blast cells down, but only by half.

Hospital volume not linked to costs of cancer surgery

Nov 26, 2014

(HealthDay)—Hospital surgical volume does not appear to correlate with Medicare payments for cancer surgery, according to research published online Nov. 24 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.