An increasing number of studies report that genus β human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are associated with skin cancer, with suggestions of specificity for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin. We have conducted a systematic examination of HPV DNA in tumors from immunocompetent hosts, including SCC and basal cell carcinoma (BCC), using a highly sensitive methodology and population-based samples to test the hypothesis that a differential prevalence of β-HPVs exists between SCC (n=101) and BCC (n=101) tumors. When testing for all known β-HPV types, we found no significant difference in HPV prevalence between the two histologies. However, SCC lesions were significantly more likely to be infected with HPV genus β-species 1 (includes types 5 and 8), than BCC samples (P=0.01); this difference was not observed for any other species. A histologic difference was also observed for those HPV types previously reported to be important in skin cancer (P=0.003). SCC samples showed a higher rate of infectivity (that is, were positive for multiple types) than BCC tumors (P=0.02). These data highlight the potential importance of various genus β-HPV types, in particular genus β-species 1 in SCC, and support the hypothesis of a behavioral difference of the virus within the two major histological skin cancers.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are indebted to the NH Society of Dermatology and participating dermatologists for their collaboration. This study was supported by the National Cancer Institute Grants R01 CA8354, R01 CA57494, NIH CA118443, CA057494, CA082354, and T32CA009078.