Objective: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a necessary cause for cervical cancer, and it has been associated with vulvar and vaginal cancer and vulvar (VIN) and vaginal (VaIN) and anal (AIN) intraepithelial neoplasia. We assessed the prevalence of HPV (and the types) to estimate the possible effect of a HPV vaccine on lower genital tract disease prevention.
Methods: Two hundred fifty-eight samples of VIN, VaIN, AIN, and vulvar cancer from 241 women were included in the study. The diagnosis of surgical samples was made using published histomorphologic criteria. The DNA was extracted for HPV detection and typed using polymerase chain reaction and sequencing.
Results: The analyses were performed on 210 intraepithelial neoplasia samples (VIN2/3, VaIN2/3, AIN2/3) and 48 vulvar carcinoma samples. Human papillomavirus DNA was detected in 92%, 91%, 89%, and 60% of the VIN, VaIN, AIN, and vulvar carcinoma samples, respectively. High-risk HPV types 16 or 18 were detected in 76%, 64%, 81%, and 42% of the VIN2/3, VaIN2/3, AIN, and vulvar carcinoma samples. Women with HPV-positive samples were younger than those with HPV-negative samples (46 years compared with 55 years and 51 years compared with 61 years, for the VIN2/3 and vulvar carcinoma samples, respectively). Human papillomavirus-positive vulvar carcinoma was more frequent in women aged younger than 56 years (77%), than in those aged 56 years or older (41%).
Conclusion: Based on the data obtained in this study, widely-implemented prophylactic HPV vaccination could make an important contribution to the reduction of the risk for cervical cancer and could also prevent about half the vulvar carcinomas in younger women and about two thirds of the intraepithelial lesions in the lower genital tract.
Level of evidence: II-3.