Prostate cancer ‘highly likely’ to be caused by HPV in some cases, study finds

For the new research, professors James Lawson and Wendy Glenn, from the University of New South Wales in Australia, reviewed 26 existing studies on HPV and their links to prostate cancer.

They concluded that HPV types 16 and 18, which cause most cases of cervical cancer, have been found in normal, benign and malignant prostate tissue.

In several of the studies, high-risk HPV DNA was found at a significantly higher prevalence in prostate cancers compared to normal and benign prostate tissue. 

“A causal role for HPVs in prostate cancer is highly likely,” they said.

Recent studies found that 231 of 1,071 prostate cancers (21.6%) were HPV positive, compared to 74 out of 1,103 benign prostate control samples.

Prof Glenn said: “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 10 years later developed HPV positive prostate cancer of the same HPV type.”

In the UK, the HPV vaccine has been routinely offered to girls aged 12-13  since 2008, but only to boys of the same age from September last year.

There have been calls for a universal vaccine, and the experts behind the research say this should be considered.

The authors found that in countries where deaths from cervical cancer were high, deaths from prostate cancer were also high.

The reverse was true for countries with low death rates from cervical cancer.

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