Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Human papillomavirus prevalence and type distribution in penile carcinoma
  1. C Miralles-Guri1,
  2. L Bruni1,
  3. A L Cubilla2,
  4. X Castellsagué1,3,
  5. F X Bosch1,
  6. S de Sanjosé1,3
  1. 1Unit of Infections and Cancer (UNIC), Cancer Epidemiology Research Program, Institut Català d’ Oncologia, IDIBELL, L’ Hospitalet de Ll, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2Pathology, Instituto de Patologia e Investigación, Asunción, Paraguay
  3. 3CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr S de Sanjosé, Unit of Infections and Cancer (UNIC), Cancer Epidemiology Research Program (CERP), Institut Català d’ Oncologia, IDIBELL, CIBERESP Avda Gran Via, s/n Km 2.7 08907 L’ Hospitalet de Ll, Barcelona, Spain; s.sanjose{at}


Background: Penile carcinoma is an uncommon and potentially mutilating disease with a heterogeneous aetiology. Several risk factors have been established for its development. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection seems to play an important role in the development of a subset of these carcinomas and its presence is thought to be related to the histological type. HPV prevalence in penile tumours is reported to be associated to a variety of morphological changes. Its determination will provide a better estimate for HPV related cancer burden and its preventable fraction.

Methods: A systematic and comprehensive literature review of the major penile cancer studies published from 1986 until June 2008 evaluating the HPV prevalence among the different histological types was carried out.

Results: 31 studies including 1466 penile carcinomas were reviewed. Global HPV prevalence was 46.9%. Relative contribution was: HPV-16 (60.23%), HPV-18 (13.35%), HPV-6/11 (8.13%), HPV-31 (1.16%), HPV-45 (1.16%), HPV-33 (0.97%), HPV-52 (0.58%), other types (2.47%). Assessment of multiple infections contribution is limited due to study design. Basaloid and warty squamous cell carcinomas were the most frequent HPV-related histological types, but keratinising and non-keratinising subtypes also showed prevalence rates of around 50%.

Conclusions: About half of the penile tumours were associated with HPV 16–18 with little presence of other genotypes. Research on the mechanisms behind penile carcinogenesis is warranted. Available HPV vaccines are likely to be effective in penile tumours.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding The work was partially supported by Spanish public grants from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (grants FIS PI030240, FIS PI061246, RCESP C03/09, RTICESP C03/10, RTIC RD06/0020/0095 and CIBERESP), the Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (AGAUR 2005SGR 00695), and the Marató de TV3 Foundation (051530).

  • Competing interests SdeS: research grants (Merck & Co. Inc., Sanofi Pasteur MSD, GlaxoSmithKline). FXB: Advisory Board (GlaxoSmithKline, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Sanofi Pasteur MSD); Speakers Bureau (GlaxoSmithKline); research grants (Merck Sharp & Dohme, Sanofi Pasteur MSD). XC: research grants (GlaxoSmithKline, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Sanofi Pasteur MSD); Speakers Bureau (GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur MSD); Steering Committee (GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur MSD). The above mentioned corporate companies had no role in the preparation, analysis or interpretation of this review.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.