July 09, 2010
1 min read

HPV linked to non-melanoma skin cancers

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Researchers have identified an association between genus beta HPV and the risk for squamous cell carcinoma. In fact, carriers of multiple types of HPV were almost one and a half times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma than non-carriers of HPV.

“An emerging body of evidence suggests a role of HPV in the occurrence of squamous cell carcinomas of the skin in the general population,” the researchers wrote. “Our findings substantiate previous observations and provide additional evidence for increasing risk with greater numbers of beta type infections rather than a model in which risk is associated with either a single HPV type or group of types.”

In the study, the researchers tested plasma samples for L1 antibodies to 16 genus beta HPVs by multiplex serology. Samples were taken from 2,366 people aged 25 to 74 years (663 with squamous cell carcinoma, 898 with basal cell carcinoma and 805 controls).

Those people with squamous cell carcinoma, but not basal cell carcinoma, were more likely to have each of the beta HPV types. Having one HPV type conferred an OR of 0.97 for squamous cell carcinoma. OR increased with increasing numbers of HPV: one HPV, OR=0.99; two to three, OR=1.44; four to eight, OR=1.51; and more than eight, OR=1.71.

In addition, the researchers found that people who were long-term users of immunosuppressant drugs, specifically glucocorticoids, had a 3.21 OR for squamous cell carcinoma compared with an OR of 1.23 in people who did not have that history.

“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 and treatment of HPV infection,” they wrote.

Karagas MR. BMJ. 2010;doi:10.1136/bmj.c2986.

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