Human papilloma virus is associated with breast cancer

B. Heng, W. K. Glenn, Y. Ye, B. Tran, W. Delprado, L. Lutze-Mann, N. J. Whitaker, J. S. Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)


Background:There is increasing evidence that high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV) is involved in cancers in addition to cervical cancer. For example, it is generally accepted that HPV has a role in a significant proportion of head and neck tumours, and it has long been hypothesised that hormone dependent oncogenic viruses, such as HPV may have causal roles in some human breast cancers. A number of reports have identified HPV DNA in breast tissue and breast cancer specimens, but these rely on standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which is criticised for its propensity for contamination.Methods:We have used two different technologies, in situ and standard PCR (with sequencing), and histology based on light microscopy.Results:We unambiguously demonstrate the presence of high-risk HPV in the cells of breast cancer specimens and breast cancer cell lines. In addition, we also show that the oncogenic characteristics of HPV associated breast cancer are very similar to HPV-associated cervical cancer. Specifically, that putative koilocytes are present in some HPV associated breast cancers.Interpretation:The above observations indicate a likely causal role for high-risk HPV in human breast cancer and offer the possibility of primary prevention of some breast cancers by vaccination against HPV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1345-1350
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


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