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Pathologe. 2008 Nov;29 Suppl 2:118-22. doi: 10.1007/s00292-008-1051-x.

[HPV in non-gynecological tumors].

[Article in German]

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Institut für Pathologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena, Ziegelmühlenweg 1, 07743 Jena.


Human papilloma viruses (HPVs) are the main tumor viruses in humans and have been identified in gynecological malignancies, especially carcinomas of the uterine cervix and their precursor lesions. In addition, they are frequently observed in other anogenital tumors such as vulva/vagina, anal and penis carcinoma. Furthermore, the potential association with head and neck cancer, in particular tonsillar carcinoma, is now well documented. However, there are controversial reports on the detection of HPV in various other tumors; these are summarized in the present report. Data revealed that apart from the heart and the kidney, the virus has been found in all other organs that have been analyzed so far, i.e., prostate, urinary bladder, oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, vagina/vulva, endometrium, ovary, breast, penis, anus, skin, and lung. Some of the detection rates are remarkable, e.g., colon cancer up to 97%, lung cancer 80%, and breast cancer 74%. They point to geographical differences in the incidence of HPV in different populations, but also highlight the need for validation of the results. HPV is nevertheless an important biomarker in molecular tumor diagnostics. Firstly, it is useful for the differentiation of a secondary squamous cell carcinoma from a metastasis. Secondly, HPV-positive carcinomas not only have a distinct etiology but also a particular morphological phenotype. Overall, they are characterized by different tumor biology, such as, for example, increased sensitivity to radiotherapy.

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