Infection with the human papillomavirus is an important co-factor in the development of cervical carcinomas. Accordingly, HPV DNA is recognised in most of these tumours. Polymorphism of the p53 gene, codon 72, is also considered a risk factor in the development of cervical carcinoma. However, this finding is contradicted by several observers. In the present investigation, 111 cases of adenocarcinoma of the cervix collected through the Swedish Cancer Registry and 188 controls (females with normal cytology at organised gynaecological screening) were analysed with regard to p53, codon 72, polymorphism using a PCR- and SSCP-based technique. In the controls, 9% showed pro/pro, 44% pro/arg and 47% arg/arg, whereas in the invasive adenocarcinomas, the corresponding figures were 0%, 29% and 71%, respectively. The difference was statistically significant (P = 0.001). HPV DNA was identified in 86 tumours (HPV 18 in 48, HPV 16 in 31 and HPV of unknown type in 7 cases) and 25 tumours were HPV negative. The p53, codon 72, genotypes observed in HPV-positive and HPV-negative cervical adenocarcinomas were not statistically different (P = 0.690). The results indicate that women homozygotic for arg/arg in codon 72 of the p53 gene are at an increased risk for the development of cervical adenocarcinomas. However, this genetic disposition seems to be unrelated to the HPV infection.
Copyright 2001 Cancer Research Campaign http://www.bjcancer.com.