The evolving definition of carcinogenic human papillomavirus

Infect Agent Cancer. 2009 May 11;4:7. doi: 10.1186/1750-9378-4-7.


Thirteen human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes have been judged to be carcinogenic or probably carcinogenic, and the cause of virtually all cervical cancer worldwide. Other HPV genotypes could possibly be involved. Although the inclusion of possibly carcinogenic HPV genotypes may hurt test specificity, it may indirectly increase the reassurance following a negative HPV test (i.e. the negative predictive value of an HPV test for cervical precancer and cancer). The future of cervical cancer screening in low-resource setting, however, may include once-in-a-lifetime, low-cost and rapid HPV testing. However, the tradeoff of more false positives for greater reassurance may not be acceptable if the local infrastructure cannot manage the screen positives. Now is the time for the community of scientists, doctors, and public health advocates to use the data presented at the 100th International Agency for Research on Cancer monograph meeting to rationally decide the target HPV genotypes for the next generation of HPV tests for use in high-resource and low-resource settings. The implications of including possibly HPV genotypes on HPV test performance, also for guidance on the use of these tests for cervical cancer prevention programs, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Editorial