Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 449–457 | Cite as

Systematic review of human papillomavirus prevalence in invasive penile cancer

  • Danielle M. Backes
  • Robert J. Kurman
  • Jeanne M. Pimenta
  • Jennifer S. Smith
Review Article



Type-specific prevalence data of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA in penile carcinoma are needed to determine the potential impact of HPV prophylactic vaccines, assuming demonstrated efficacy in men.


A review was conducted using search terms including HPV and penile cancer. Studies using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for HPV DNA detection in invasive penile carcinoma were included.


A total of 1,266 squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cases contributed data from 30 studies. The number of SCC was similar in Europe (28.2%), North America (27.6%), South America (23.9%) and Asia (20.4%). All SCC were histologically confirmed with biopsies for DNA detection. Most commonly used PCR primers were type-specific (35.2%), and combination PCR (18.2%). HPV prevalence was 47.9%, ranging from 22.4% in verrucous SCC to 66.3% for the basaloid/warty subtypes. HPV16 (30.8%), HPV6 (6.7%) and HPV18 (6.6%) were the most prevalent types. HPV16 and/or HPV 18 prevalence was 36.7%.


HPV DNA was detected in half of SCC, with HPV16 being the most common type. If proven efficacious in men, prophylactic vaccines targeting carcinogenic types HPV16 and 18 could potentially reduce approximately one-third of incident SCC.


Human papillomavirus Penile cancer Etiology Review 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the funding for this research recieved from the Center of Excellence in Parmacoepidemiology, The University of North Carolina, USA, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), U.K. Jennifer Smith received research grants and other financial supports from GSK and Merck Corporation, in addition, provided financial support to Johns Hopkins University, USA, with the latter’s faculty member Robert Kurman also officiating as the principal investigator on the Merck Pathology Panel. Jeanne Pimenta is a full time employee of GSK. The authors also thank Mark Stoler and Edyta Pirog for their helpful comments on this research article, and Yuli Chang for her help with double data abstraction. Financial support: The University of North Carolina Center of Excellence in Pharmacoepidemiology and GlaxoSmithKline provided funding for this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danielle M. Backes
    • 1
  • Robert J. Kurman
    • 2
  • Jeanne M. Pimenta
    • 3
  • Jennifer S. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Pathology, Gynecology, and ObstetricsJohns Hopkins Medical InstitutionsBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Worldwide Epidemiology, GlaxoSmithKlineGreenford, MiddlesexUnited Kingdom

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