HPVs May Play a Role in Prostate Cancer

Human papilloma viruses (HPVs) – a common group of viruses known to cause cervical cancers may also play a role in prostate cancer, according to the findings of a literature review published in the open access journal Infectious Agents and Cancer.

Researchers reviewed results from 26 previous studies on HPVs and their correlations to prostate cancer. They assessed the existing evidence using a common set of nine causal criteria, including the strength and consistency with which HPVs were associated with prostate cancers and whether HPVs were detected in prostate tissues that later went on to develop cancer. James Lawson said: “Although HPVs are only one of many pathogens that have been identified in prostate cancer, they are the only infectious pathogen we can vaccinate against, which makes it important to assess the evidence of a possible causal role of HPVs in prostate cancer.”

According to the results, high-risk HPV types 16 and 18, which cause most cervical cancers, have been identified in normal, benign and malignant prostate tissues. The researchers observed in several case control studies, the prevalence of high-risk HPV DNA, which indicates the presence of cancer-causing types, was notably higher in prostate cancers juxtaposed to normal and benign prostate controls. The results showed in recent studies that 231 of 1071 prostate cancers (21.6%) were HPV positive, whereas only 74 of 1,103 benign prostate patients, only 6.7% were HPV positive.

Wendy Glenn, co-author of the review said, per a press release: “Across several studies conducted in a wide range of countries and using different methods to identify HPVs, we found reasonably consistent evidence that high risk HPVs are significantly more prevalent in prostate cancers than in normal prostate tissues and benign prostate tissues. Previous studies have also shown that high risk HPVs were present in benign prostate tissues that up to ten years later developed HPV positive prostate cancer of the same HPV type.”

James Lawson, co-author added: “As high risk HPV infections are associated with the majority of cervical cancers and the most frequent means of HPV transmission is probably by sexual activity, the data may indicate that HPV infection may be transmitted during sexual activity and play causal role in prostate cancer, as well as cervical cancer.”