Background: A polymorphism at codon 72 of the human tumour-suppressor gene, p53, results in translation to either arginine or proline. A recent report suggested that the risk of human-papillomavirus-associated cervical cancer in white women is higher for those homozygous for the arginine allele than for those who are heterozygous. We examined a similar number of cervical cancers and a larger control group for their p53 codon 72 polymorphism status to see if we could confirm this result.
Methods: Three different groups of UK white women were studied: 96 who had volunteered to take part in a trial of ovarian-cancer screening; 150 attending for routine antenatal care in the Oxford region; and 50 women with cervical cancer. DNA from peripheral blood samples and from archival tissue samples was examined by PCR with allele-specific primers.
Findings: The proportions of individuals homozygous for the arginine allele, homozygous for the proline allele, and heterozygous for the two alleles were 59%, 4%, and 36% among women screened for ovarian cancer; 65%, 8%, and 27% among the antenatal-care group; and 54%, 6%, and 40% in women with cervical cancer. Chi2 analysis showed no significant differences in these proportions.
Interpretation: In the population studied, individuals homozygous for the arginine variant of codon 72 of the p53 gene were not at increased risk of cervical cancer.