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Int J Exp Pathol. 2009 Apr;90(2):182-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2613.2008.00636.x.

Histological characteristics of human papilloma-virus-positive and -negative invasive and in situ squamous cell tumours of the penis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Hillerød Hospital, Hillerød, Denmark.


A high prevalence of cervical cancer associated high-risk types of human papillomavirus (hrHPV) has been demonstrated in premalignant and invasive squamous cell lesions of the penis, but large studies correlating histological characteristics with HPV status are few in number. Tumour tissues from 145 patients with invasive (n = 116) or in situ (n = 29) penile squamous cell carcinoma were subjected to systematic histological evaluation and were PCR-tested for 14 hrHPV types and 23 low-risk HPV types. Around half (52%) of invasive and nine-tenths (90%) of in situ lesions were positive for an hrHPV type, of which HPV 16 was by far the predominant type (91% of hrHPV-positive lesions). In relation to histological characteristics, hrHPV positivity was statistically significantly more common in high-grade tumours, lesions dominated by small tumour cells, lesions with a high number of multinucleated cells and mitoses, and lesions with a small amount of parakeratosis. In conclusion, about half of invasive penile squamous carcinomas in this study were hrHPV-positive, most notably to HPV 16, and probably arose through in situ lesions whereas the other half of invasive penile lesions appeared to be unrelated to hrHPV. A number of histological characteristics differed significantly between hrHPV-positive and -negative invasive penile carcinomas.

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