Background: HPV has been detected in approximately 50% of invasive penile cancers but with a large span between 24 and 89%, most likely due to different types of tumors and various methods for HPV analysis. Most studies of HPV in penile cancer have been performed using paraffin-embedded tissue, argued to be at risk for contaminated HPV analysis. Viral activity of HPV, by the use of HPV mRNA expression is well studied in cervical cancer, but seldom studied in penile cancer. The aim was to determine prevalence of HPV types in fresh tissue of penile cancers compared to non-malignant age-matched penile controls. Additional aims were to analyze the viral expression and copy numbers of HPV16-positive tumors and 10 mm adjacent to the tumor. Methods: Fresh tissue from penile cancer cases was biopsied inside the tumor and 10 mm outside the tumor. Controls were males circumcised for non-malignant reasons, biopsied at surgery. PCR and Luminex assays were used for identification of HPV types. HPV16-positive samples were investigated for copy numbers and expression of HPV16-mRNA. Results: Among tumors (n = 135) and age-matched controls (n = 105), HPV was detected in 38.5% (52/135) and 11.4% (12/105), respectively (p < 0.001), adjusted odds ratio 12.8 (95% confidence interval 4.9–33.6). High-risk HPV types were found in 35.6% (48/135) of tumors and 4.8% (5/105) of controls (p < 0.001). Among tumors and controls, HPV16 was present in 27.4% (37/135) and 1% (1/105), respectively (p < 0.001). Among HPV16-positive penile cancers, mean HPV16 viral copy/cell was 74.4 (range 0.00003–725.4) in the tumor and 1.6 (range 0.001–14.4) 10 mm adjacent from the tumor. HPV16-mRNA analysis of the tumors and 10 mm adjacent from the tumors demonstrated viral activity in 86.5% (32/37) and 21.7% (5/23), respectively. Conclusions: The prevalence of HPV was significantly higher in penile cancer (38.5%) than among age-matched non-malignant penile samples (11.4%). HPV16 predominates (27.4%) in penile tumors. HPV16 expression was more common in penile cancer than in adjacent healthy tissue, strongly suggesting an etiological role for HPV16 in the development of penile cancer.
- Cancer och onkologi