According to an article recently published in Gynecologic Oncology, outcomes among patients with cervical cancer who had human papillomavirus (HPV) found in nearby lymph nodes were similar to those whose cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.
The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (womb). Although the incidence of cervical cancer in the United States is low as a result of routine screening, its incidence remains high worldwide. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that consists of several different viral strains and is the major cause of cervical cancer. Screening for cervical cancer now includes testing for HPV.
Researchers from Europe recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate the implications of the presence of HPV in lymph nodes of patients diagnosed with cervical cancer. The study included 116 patients with the presence of HPV on their original cancer. Lymph node tissue was tested for HPV during surgery.
- Nearly 70% of patients had HPV found in their lymph nodes (HPV+).
- Survival did not significantly differ between patients with no cancer found in their lymph nodes who had HPV+ lymph nodes and those who did have cancer found in their lymph nodes.
- Survival did differ significantly between patients with no cancer found in their lymph nodes and no presence of HPV in the lymph nodes and those who did have cancer spread to the lymph nodes.
The researchers concluded that the presence of HPV in lymph nodes was associated with the same survival as patients with cervical cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes. The authors state that “the presence of HPV DNA in lymph nodes is an early sign of metastasis and should be treated as such in prognostic outlook and planning the therapeutic strategy.”
Patients undergoing surgery for cervical cancer should speak with their physician regarding testing for HPV in nearby lymph nodes.
Reference: Lukaszuk K, Liss J, Gulczynski J, et al. Predictive value of HPV DNA in lymph nodes in surgically treated cervical carcinoma patients-a prospective study. Gynecologic Oncology. 2007; 104: 721-726.