Posted by: Chris Maloney | October 21, 2011

Does HPV Cause Breast Cancer?

Age-standardised death rates from Breast cance...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s breast cancer awareness month, and everyone is publishing.  Here’s an intriguing little study on the fact that about half of breast cancer tumors show up positive with HPV DNA, specifically HPV 18, which is one of the more aggressive types.

What does this mean for the HPV vaccine?  We don’t know.  Some people will definitely say it’s protective, others will say it might even worsen the situation.

J Med Virol. 2011 Dec;83(12):2157-63. doi:

High prevalence of human papillomaviruses in fresh frozen
breast cancer samples.

Antonsson A, Spurr TP, Chen AC, Francis GD, McMillan NA,
Saunders NA, Law M, Bennett IC.


University of Queensland, Diamantina Institute for Cancer,
Immunology and Metabolic Medicine, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba,
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


While the etiology of breast cancer remains enigmatic, some
recent reports have examined the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in breast
carcinogenesis. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of
HPV in breast cancer tissue using PCR analysis and sequencing. Fifty-four (54)
fresh frozen breast cancers samples that were removed from a cohort of breast
cancer patients were analyzed. Samples were tested for HPV using comprehensive
PCR primers, and in situ hybridization was performed on paraffin embedded
tissue sections. Findings were correlated with clinical and pathological
characteristics. The HPV DNA prevalence in the breast cancer samples was 50%
(27/54) with sequence analysis indicating all cases to be positive for HPV-18
type. While HPV patients were slightly younger, no correlation was noted for
menopausal status or family history. HPV positive tumors were smaller with
earlier T staging and demonstrated lesser nodal involvement compared to HPV
negative cancers. In situ hybridization analyses proved negative. The high
proportion of HPV positive breast cancers detected in this series using fresh
frozen tissues cannot be dismissed, however the role of HPV in breast
carcinogenesis remains unclear and may ultimately be ascertained by monitoring
future breast cancer incidence amongst women vaccinated against high risk HPV
types. J. Med. Virol. 83:2157-2163, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

PMID: 22012724



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