p16 Expression and Biological Behavior of Flat Vulvar Low-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions (LSIL)

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Flat low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LSIL) of the vulva [vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) 1, flat condyloma] is an uncommon entity with poorly understood biological behavior. We aimed to determine the risk of subsequent vulvar high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL) or carcinoma following a diagnosis of vulvar LSIL/VIN 1, as well as the frequency and predictive value of p16 immunohistochemical expression in this setting. Of the 51 included cases, p16 positivity (diffuse block staining) was identified in 2 (4%). Follow-up data were available in 34 cases, of which 2 (5.9%) developed subsequent vulvar HSIL, including 1/2 p16-positive cases and 1/32 p16-negative cases. The difference in HSIL frequency between p16-positive and p16-negative cases was not statistically significant (P=0.116 for VIN 2+, P=0.061 for VIN 3). For the 18 patients with treatment information available, 10 (56%) received medical or surgical treatment after biopsy. Our results indicate that flat vulvar LSIL is infrequently p16 positive, and that few patients with vulvar LSIL develop subsequent vulvar HSIL. Despite the use of destructive treatment in some cases, the data provide support for the nonpreneoplastic nature of the entity. Immunohistochemical expression of p16 may not be a predictor of HSIL risk in vulvar LSIL, although this result may also be related to the very low rates of both p16 positivity and subsequent vulvar HSIL in our sample. It is clear that vulvar LSIL is distinct from LSIL in other lower anogenital sites in terms of its behavior and p16 expression frequency.

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