New subtype of cervical cancer linked to HPV identified

Researchers identified a new subtype of cervical cancer triggered by human papillomavirus, according to a new study published in the journal Oncotarget.

For the study, researchers analyzed genomic data from 255 cervical cancer samples collected in 2005 during a federally funded collection effort led by the National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute.

The analysis confirmed previously held suspicions that an HPV-inactive class of cervical cancers may be virally driven initially, but then evolve independently from HPV. Since the virus does not control tumor growth, targeting therapies at the cancer's genomic makeup could improve treatment success, according to the researchers.

Researchers identified 19 cancer driver genes with significantly higher levels of mutation in the HPV-inactive class than in the HPV-active class, suggesting these driver genes serve tumor cell growth functions normally provided by HPV oncogenes.

"Cervical cancer patients are currently treated as a uniform group based on chemotherapy and radiation regimens that help the largest percentage of people; however, one third of these patients are not helped by standard therapies," said Carolyn E. Banister, PhD, a researcher with the college of pharmacy at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. "Physicians managing cervical cancer patients should test for HPV oncogene expression in these tumors and consider personalized treatment depending on HPV activity."

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