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Br J Cancer. 2009 Oct 20;101(8):1345-50. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605282. Epub 2009 Sep 1.

Human papilloma virus is associated with breast cancer.

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School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.



There is increasing evidence that high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV) is involved in cancers in addition to cervical cancer. For example, it is generally accepted that HPV has a role in a significant proportion of head and neck tumours, and it has long been hypothesised that hormone dependent oncogenic viruses, such as HPV may have causal roles in some human breast cancers. A number of reports have identified HPV DNA in breast tissue and breast cancer specimens, but these rely on standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which is criticised for its propensity for contamination.


We have used two different technologies, in situ and standard PCR (with sequencing), and histology based on light microscopy.


We unambiguously demonstrate the presence of high-risk HPV in the cells of breast cancer specimens and breast cancer cell lines. In addition, we also show that the oncogenic characteristics of HPV associated breast cancer are very similar to HPV-associated cervical cancer. Specifically, that putative koilocytes are present in some HPV associated breast cancers.


The above observations indicate a likely causal role for high-risk HPV in human breast cancer and offer the possibility of primary prevention of some breast cancers by vaccination against HPV.

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