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Is There a Causative link Between HPV and Lung Cancer?

With the continuing surge in lung cancer claiming, more attention will focus on causation issues. A new paper in Carcinogenesis finds a statistical link between HPV and lung cancer in a subset of tumors. The study includes authors from Fox Chase and around the world, and reports on variations between ethnic subgroups. It’s unclear whether the HPV is causative. HPV, however, is clearly a cause of cervical cancer.

The article abstract states:

"Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the etiologic risk factor for cervical cancer. Some studies have suggested an association with a subset of lung tumors, but the etiologic link has not been firmly established. We performed an international pooled analysis of cross-sectional studies (27 datasets, n = 3249 patients) to evaluate HPV DNA prevalence in lung cancer and to investigate viral presence according to clinical and demographic characteristics. HPV16/18 were the most commonly detected, but with substantial variation in viral prevalence between geographic regions. The highest prevalence of HPV16/18 was observed in South and Central America, followed by Asia, North America and Europe (adjusted prevalence rates = 22, 5, 4 and 3%, respectively). Higher HPV16 prevalence was noted in each geographic region compared with HPV18, except in North America. HPV16/18-positive lung cancer was less likely observed among White race (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.33, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.12–0.90), whereas no associations were observed with gender, smoking history, age, histology or stage. Comparisons between tumor and normal lung tissue show that HPV was more likely to be present in lung cancer rather than normal lung tissues (OR = 3.86, 95% CI = 2.87–5.19). Among a subset of patients with HPV16-positive tumors, integration was primarily among female patients (93%, 13/14), while the physical status in male cases (N = 14) was inconsistent. Our findings confirm that HPV DNA is present in a small fraction of lung tumors, with large geographic variations. Further comprehensive analysis is needed to assess whether this association reflects a causal relationship."

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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