J Clin Pathol 55:587-590 doi:10.1136/jcp.55.8.587
  • Original article

Human papillomavirus associated with oesophageal cancer

  1. T Matsha1,
  2. R Erasmus2,
  3. A B Kafuko3,
  4. D Mugwanya3,
  5. A Stepien2,
  6. M I Parker1,
  7. For The Cansa/mrc Oesophageal Cancer Research Group
  1. 1Department of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Observatory, 7925 South Africa
  2. 2Department of Pathology, University of Transkei, Umtata, 5100 South Africa
  3. 3Department of Thoracic Surgery, University of Transkei
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor M I Parker, Division of Medical Biochemistry, UCT, Faculty of Health Sciences, Observatory, 7925 South Africa;
  • Accepted 15 April 2002


Aim: To study the prevalence and the different types of human papillomavirus (HPV) in patients with oesophageal cancer from a high risk area of South Africa (Transkei).

Methods: DNA samples from 50 paraffin wax embedded tissue sections were analysed by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using the degenerate HPV L1 consensus primer pairs MY09/MY11 and GP5+/GP6+. Positive PCR samples were subjected to DNA sequence analysis.

Results: HPV DNA was detected in 23 of the 50 samples. Sequence analysis revealed that most patients (11) harboured DNA to HPV type 11, whereas other types included DNA HPV type 39 (seven patients), type 16 (two patients), and type 52 (one patient). HPV type 39 has not previously been shown to be associated with oesophageal cancer. In contrast to earlier studies that have found HPV type 16 to be more frequently associated with oesophageal cancer, HPV type 11 was the predominant subtype in this study.

Conclusions: The high frequency of occurrence of HPV in oesophageal tumours (23 of 50 patients; 46%) implicates HPV as one of the possible aetiological factors in this disease. The finding that the low risk HPV subtypes predominate indicates that transformation may be effected via the E6 and E7 proteins.