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HPV Skin Infection Now A Risk Factor For Skin Cancer

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HPV Skin Infection

A new case-control study conducted by top researchers from the Cancer Research Centers from University of South Florida (United States of America), Heidelberg (Germany) and Lyon (France) has found links between the presence of antibodies against several types of cutaneous HPV (human papillomavirus) and the presence of SCC (squamous cell carcinoma – a type of skin cancer).

This is the first case-control study that associates the presence of HPV viral types and the presence squamous cell carcinoma in patients. It was first published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The study was funded from several grants obtained with the help of the Miles for Moffit Foundation and the Florida Department of Health.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Dana Rollison, Ph.D., the lead author of the study says that  “Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is the second most frequently occurring cancer among Caucasians in the United States, and the numbers of cases continue to rise”, adding that “Risk factors for SCC include ultraviolet radiation exposure via the sun, older age, light skin and suppressed immune system”.

Researchers say that the newly discovered link between the infection with different HPV types and SSC points out that the cutaneous human papillomavirus infection could be considered a risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma. In the current study, the antibodies against alpha, beta, gamma, mu and nu HPV types were investigated. Researchers compared the blood samples taken from patients that suffered from squamous cell carcinoma and a cancer free control group.

The control group consisted of 300 patients that had already tested negative for SCC and 173 patients that tested positive for SCC. Out of the 173 SCC-positive patients, 159 were tested for cutaneous HPV. The results from the tests show that the antibodies against the alpha genus of HPV 10 and the beta genus of HPV 8 and 17 are strongly connected to squamous cell carcinoma. Scientists also discovered a link between the antibodies against the beta genus of type 5 and type 24 HPV are in close connection to the development of SCC in patients.

Dr. Rollison notes that “While our current study provides evidence for an association between genus-beta HPV and SCC, the exact mechanism by which the association exists is still unclear”, whilst some scientists suggest a connection between the DNA repairing mechanism and an infection with HPV, a connection that increases the patients’ predisposition to develop squamous cell carcinoma.

Dr. Rollison also adds that her study will lead to the improvement of prevention methods against SCC through better knowledge of this risk factor.