WEDNESDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- Human papillomavirus
(HPV), the virus that can cause cervical and head and neck cancers,
may also trigger some cases of lung cancer, according to a small
Researchers examined 36 tumor tissue samples from patients with
non-small-cell lung cancer who had never smoked. Smoking is a major
cause of lung cancer, but the causes of lung cancer in nonsmokers
can be difficult to pinpoint.
The investigators found that about 6 percent of the tissue
samples showed signs of infection from two strains of HPV known to
cause cancer. The strains are called HPV 16 and HPV 18.
Further examination of the tissue samples infected with HPV 16
revealed that the virus had integrated into the tumor's DNA, which
the researchers said provides stronger evidence that HPV infection
caused the tumor.
The study was scheduled to be presented Wednesday at the annual
meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, in
Washington, D.C. Study data and conclusions should be viewed as
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
If it is confirmed that HPV plays a role in some cases of lung
cancer, the next step is to learn more about those tumors so they
can be treated more effectively, said the researchers from the Fox
Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. This study, however, did not
prove a cause-and-effect link between the virus and lung
Lung cancer kills more than 1 million people a year. About 10
percent of lung cancer cases occur in nonsmokers.
"Given how many patients develop lung cancer, if even a small
percentage of those tumors stem from HPV, that ends up being a
large number of patients," study author Dr. Ranee Mehra, an
attending physician in medical oncology at Fox Chase, said in a
center news release.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about