Medical News

Penile Cancer Linked to Sexually Transmitted Virus, Study Says

August 27, 2009

Nearly half of penile cancer cases are linked to human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a new study led by Silvia de Sanjose of the cancer epidemiology research program at the Barcelona-based Catalan Institute of Oncology.

The investigators reviewed 31 studies involving 1,466 men with penile cancer, finding HPV present in 46.9 percent of cases. HPV strains 16 and 18 were responsible for roughly three of every four tumors linked to the virus, they found.

About 26,300 men develop penile cancer every year. The disease accounts for less than 1 percent of cancers in European and North American men but up 10 percent in men from Africa and Asia, studies show.

The HPV vaccines Gardasil, made by Merck & Co., and Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, both target HPV-16 and HPV-18. According to the team, vaccinating against the two most common HPV strains could provide protection against penile cancer.

"Although penile carcinoma is a rare disease, around 7,000 cases would be prevented annually by the eradication of HPV-16/18," the investigators wrote. The vaccines' efficacy in men "is still under investigation, but evidence to date suggests safety" and the ability to generate an immune system response, they noted.

The study, "HPV Prevalence and Type Distribution in Penile Carcinoma," was published early online in the Journal of Clinical Pathology (2009;doi:10.1136/jcp.2008.063149).

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Adapted from:
Bloomberg News
08.25.2009; Michelle Fay Cortez

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.


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