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08-07-2010 | Dermatology | Article

HPV infection linked to increased risk for squamous cell carcinoma


Free abstract

MedWire News: Infection with genus β human papillomaviruses (HPVs) is significantly more prevalent in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) patients than in noncancerous controls, show study findings published in the British Medical Journal.

"These findings support a relation between genus β HPV infection and the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin in the general population, as well as potential enhancement of risk by immunosuppression," say the researchers.

Margaret Karagas (Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA) and team tested 663 SCC patients, 898 basal cell carcinoma (BCC) patients, and 805 noncancerous control individuals for evidence of infection with 16 genus β HPVs.

Plasma samples taken from the participants were tested for the presence of L1 antibodies to the different HPVs.

The investigators found that the likelihood of having SCC increased with increasing numbers of genus β HPVs detected. Patients who were seropositive for one, two to three, four to eight, or more than eight types of genus β HPVs had odds ratios of 0.99, 1.44, 1.51, and 1.71, respectively, for having SCC compared with uninfected individuals.

This was not the case for patients with BCC, however, in whom no significant difference in prevalence of HPV infection was seen versus controls.

Of note, the association between SCC and genus β HPV infection appeared to be greater in patients who were long-term users of systemic glucocorticoids than in those who did not use these drugs, but this relationship was only of borderline statistical significance.

"An emerging body of evidence suggests a role of HPV in the occurrence of SCCs of the skin in the general population," write the authors.

They conclude: "Our findings substantiate previous observations and provide additional evidence for increasing risk with greater numbers of β type infections rather than a model in which risk is associated with either a single HPV type or group of types."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert