Background: The presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has not been documented in previous reports of lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma (LELC) of the uterine cervix by either polymerase chain reaction or in situ hybridization, and the histogenesis of the tumor remains unknown. Additionally, a relationship between human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical LELC also has not been reported.
Methods: In this article, the authors describe the clinical and histopathologic findings for 15 patients with cervical carcinoma that had a histologic pattern of LELC. The polymerase chain reaction detected the presence of EBV and HPV DNA sequences in cervical LELC.
Results: All 15 tumors showed a typical syncytial growth pattern of undifferentiated cells with prominent lymphocytic infiltration. The detection rate of the EBV gene sequence in tissue samples from patients with LELC was more frequent than that in control patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix (11 of 15 patients, 73.3%, vs. 4 of 15 patients, 26.7%; P = 0.01). However, the detection rate of HPV-16 and HPV-18 DNA was significantly lower in patients with LELC tumors than in patients with cervical squamous cell carcinoma (3 of 15 patients, 20.0%, vs. 12 of 15 patients, 80.0%; P = 0.001). After a median follow-up of 3.9 years (range, 1.8-5.3 years), the 15 patients showed no evidence of disease or metastasis after radical hysterectomy or radiotherapy.
Conclusions: The finding of EBV associations in cervical LELC supports the hypothesis that EBV may be involved in the pathogenesis of tumors that arise in the cervix. It is possible that cervical LELC may follow a different pathway in the pathogenesis of LELC in Asian women as compared with the more common forms of squamous cell carcinoma.