Paradigm shift: Link discovered between HPV, skin cancer

December 1, 2009
Rebecca Bryant

Rebecca Bryant is a medical writer based in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Developments that link HPV to skin cancer could change the frontiers of medicine.

Key Points

"Research already shows that HPV causes many epidermal cancers.

"It's strongly linked to at least 95 percent of cervical cancers; 70 percent of anal cancers; 50 percent of vaginal, vulvar and penile cancers; and 20 percent of oropharyngeal cancers.1

More than 100 human papillomaviruses have been identified. They are numbered according to the order of their discovery. Scientists have recently subdivided the viruses into three subfamilies (alpha, beta and mu genera) based on genetic similarity.

In contrast, low-risk viruses - those associated with warts - are not.