, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 48-55
Date: 13 Feb 2011

The role of human papillomavirus infection in breast cancer

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Breast cancer is the leading female cancer and the third most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Many studies have suggested a possible link between breast cancer pathogenesis and viral infection, particularly mouse mammary tumour virus, simian virus 40, Epstein–Barr virus, and human papillomavirus (HPV). A significant number of recent studies have reported that approximately 29% of human breast cancer tissues were positive for high-risk HPV subtypes, especially HPV subtypes 16, 18, or 33. In contrast, several other investigations did not detect any HPV subtypes in either breast cancer tissue or normal breast tissue from patients diagnosed with breast cancer. Given these conflicting data and the established complexity of the association between HPV with other cancers, a definitive relationship between human breast cancer and HPV infection has not been determined. Recent advances in laboratory methodologies aim to overcome the inherent challenges in detecting HPV in breast cancer tissue. There is an urgent need to obtain additional evidence in order to assess the possibility of breast cancer prevention using HPV vaccines.

T. Wang and P. Chang contributed equally to this article.