HPV infection raises skin cancer risk, says study

HPV infection may increase the risk of developing certain skin cancers, research suggests.

Several types of HPV increase a person's risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by up to 1.5 times, a US study showed.

The team from Dartmouth Medical School studied 2,366 people, of which 663 had SCC, 898 had basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and 805 were healthy controls.

Researchers measured HPV antibody levels in participants' blood samples.

They found patients with SCC were more likely to have each of the beta HPV types, known to affect the skin, compared with the control group.

Presence of BCC was not associated with increased cancer risk, however.

A patient’s chance of developing SCC increased if they had more of the HPV types. Patients with SCC were 1.7 times more likely to have greater than eight types of HPV than those in the control group.

The risk was pronounced among long-term users of immunosuppressant drugs, whose risk of SCC was three times greater than the control group.

The authors concluded: ‘Given the widespread and growing occurrence of these malignancies, our results raise the possibility of reducing the health and economic burden of these cancers through prevention or treatment of HPV infection.'

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