Approximately half of penile cancers associated to human papilloma virus (hpv) infection


Approximately half of penile cancers associated to human papilloma virus (hpv) infection

Research published ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Pathology reports that approximately half of all tumors of the penis, including the malignant ones, are associated to the most ordinary forms of the sexually transmitted infection human papillomavirus (HPV).

Spanish researchers have concluded that the HPV vaccines that already exist are likely to be useful in treating penile tumors.

In women HPV can lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus. In men, it can lead to cancers of the anus and penis.

Penile cancer is uncommon, accounting for less than 1 percent of adult male cancers in Europe and North America, but as much as 10 percent in Africa and Asia. Worldwide, there are 26,300 new cases every year.

The causes are considered to include several risk factors, such as: unretractable foreskin, not being circumcised, poor hygiene, history of smoking, multiple sexual partners and history of genital warts or other sexually transmitted infections.

Researchers from the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program at the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain evaluated the incidence of HPV in penile cancer. They reviewed thirty one major penile cancer studies published between 1986 and June 2008.

Together, the studies included details of 1,466 penile cancers. The prevalence of HPV in those cases was 46.9 percent, ranging from 40.7 percent prevalence in South America to 57.6 percent in North America.

There are more than a hundred types of HPV. The researchers found that HPV16 was the most common among the cases in the studies, accounting for 61.5 percent of cancers. The next most frequent type was HPV18, which was detected in 13.2 percent of cases.

The authors indicated that every year approximately 7,000 cases of penile cancer could be prevented by eradicating HPV16 and 18.

Currently in progress, an international study is gathering and evaluating a large number of penile cancer samples from more than seventeen countries. The authors welcome this study as a means of obtaining new data to assess the contribution of other HPV types and multiple HPV infection.

The researchers write in conclusion: "Systematic international studies are ongoing, they will probably help in reducing uncertainty and provide new evidence on the involvement of HPV in penile carcinomas."

"Human papillomavirus prevalence and type distribution in penile carcinoma"

C Miralles-Guri, L Bruni, A L Cubilla, X Castellsague, F X Bosch, S de Sanjose

doi:10.1136/jcp.2008.063149

Journal of Clinical Pathology

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