Anal Human Papillomavirus Infection and Squamous Neoplasia in Patients With Invasive Vulvar Cancer

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To test the hypothesis that women with invasive vulvar cancer are at high risk of developing human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated anal squamous neoplasia.


Forty women (median age 54.5 years; range 25-86) who were being treated or had been treated for invasive vulvar cancer and who had not had radiotherapy to the pelvis or anogenital region underwent anal microendoscopy and biopsy. A second group of 80 women who were similar in age to the study group and had no history of anogenital HPV infection or neoplasia formed the control group. The polymerase chain reaction was used to detect HPV 16 DNA in the vulvar and anal tissue samples from 33 patients in the study group and in the anal biopsies of all controls.


A histologic diagnosis of anal HPV infection or squamous neoplasia was made in 19 of 40 biopsies (47.5%) in the study group. These diagnoses consisted of one HPV, two anal squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL) grade 1,15 anal SIL grade III (four of which were associated with invasive anal cancers), and one invasive cancer in the absence of anal SIL. Human papillomavirus 16 DNA was detected in 16 of 33 (48.5% of anal and 25 of 33 (75% of vulvar biopsies. In addition, HPV 16 was detected in both the anal and vulvar samples in 13 of 16 cases (81% of anal SIL HI and invasive anal squamous cancer. No evidence of anal SIL was found in the controls, and HPV 16 DNA was identified in only 11 (13.7% of the anal biopsies in this group.


This study provides further evidence for the etiologic relation between genital and anal squamous neoplasia. Furthermore, it shows that women with vulvar cancer are at high risk of having or developing HPV-associated anal neoplasia, particularly in younger patients (P=.0006; 95% confidence interval 12-34). Routine anal examination should be performed in patients with invasive vulvar cancer. (Obstet Gynecol 1994;83:212-6)

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