Among sexually transmitted diseases, infection by human papillomavirus (HPV) has become one of the most important. On the other hand, though epidemiological data show that some HPV types are closely associated with cervical cancer, few reports have been found with reference to penile carcinoma because of its rare occurrence. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between HPV infection and penile cancer in Argentina. A retrospective study was carried out on 38 white men with penile squamous-cell carcinoma. Sixty-five archival fixed biopsies taken from 34 primary penile tumors, 25 nodal metastases, 1 skin "satellite" metastasis and 5 histologically normal lymph nodes were used as specimens. HPV detection and typing were carried out by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using generic primers, combined with single-stranded conformational polymorphism (SSCP) analysis. HPV DNA was found in 71% patients, corresponding 81% of them to "high risk" types, with predominance of HPV 18. Both primary tumors and metastases showed concordance of HPV occurrence and type in both lesions. In 3 patients, HPV 16 was detected not only in primary tumors and metastases, but also in histologically normal lymph nodes. Our data indicate that most penile carcinomas in Argentine patients are etiologically related to HPV, especially to "high risk" genital types. The agreement in HPV detection between primary tumors and metastases suggests a potential viral role in tumor progression. HPV detection in otherwise histologically normal lymph nodes might be useful as early marker of a metastatic process.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.