Human papilloma virus may have causal link to squamous cell carcinoma

April 6, 2006

Lebanon, N.H. -- Human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a cause of some epithelial cancers, including cervical, may also be a cause of squamous cell carcinoma, according to researchers.

Lebanon, N.H. -- Human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a cause of some epithelial cancers, including cervical, may also be a cause of squamous cell carcinoma, according to researchers.

According to researchers at Dartmouth Medical School here, squamous cell carcinoma was associated with a 60 percent risk increase in persons infected with HPV. The study was reported in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study says the HPV viruses involved were in a different genus from those responsible for cervical cancer -- genus beta rather than genus alpha -- but that while sun exposure and skin sensitivity remain the most important risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma, these viruses may well be a risk factor for skin cancer. The study noted that more research will be needed to isolate a causal link.

The researchers took blood samples from 252 patients with squamous cell carcinoma, 525 with basal cell carcinoma and 461 control subjects matched for age and sex. The participants were interviewed for socio-demographic, life-style, occupational and other information, and asked to provide details regarding sun exposure and skin sensitivity. The researchers tested for plasma antibodies to a range of papilloma viruses, and analysis showed there was a clear link between HPV infection and squamous cell carcinoma, though no link was found between HPV and basal cell carcinoma.