AIMS--To determine retrospectively the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 in penile carcinomas. METHODS--Forty one surgically resected penile carcinomas from the archives at Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, were reviewed and classified into verrucous carcinoma, and well, moderately, and poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinomas. Paraffin wax embedded tumour tissue was sectioned and analysed for HPV 16 and HPV 18 using the polymerase chain reaction with type specific internal probes. RESULTS--There were seven verrucous carcinomas, and 11 well, 17 moderately, and six poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinomas. Six of the 41 (15%) patients had penile carcinoma containing HPV 16 or HPV 18 DNA, or both, with HPV 16 found in four (10%) and HPV 18 in four (10%). The mean ages of HPV positive and HPV negative groups of patients were 68.5 and 57.6 years, respectively (p < 0.05). None of the seven verrucous and 11 well differentiated squamous cell carcinomas was positive for HPV. The mean age of patients who had these carcinomas was 52.4 years. As a group, these low grade carcinomas occurred in patients younger by more than a decade than those who had carcinomas of the higher grades (mean age 64.4 years; p < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS--Penile carcinomas had much lower rates of infection by HPV 16 or HPV 18 than cervical carcinomas in this Hong Kong population. Based on our findings and on data collated from published findings, it is concluded that penile verrucous carcinomas are not associated with HPV 16 and HPV 18. The overall low prevalence of HPV 16 and HPV 18 in penile carcinomas suggests that other HPV types might be important in the pathogenesis of these tumours.
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