Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now been able to show for the first time in a natural system that papillomaviruses associated with UV light promote the development of non-melanoma skin cancer. The investigators provide an explanation

EUREKALERT | GERMAN CANCER RESEARCH CENTER (DEUTSCHES KREBSFORSCHUNGSZENTRUM, DKFZ)
UV radiation has been known for a long time to be a risk factor for the development of skin cancer. Simultaneous infection with human papillomaviruses (HPV) has also been suspected to promote skin cancer, particularly in organ transplant recipients. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now been able to show for the first time in a natural system that papillomaviruses associated with UV light promote the development of non-melanoma skin cancer. The investigators provide an explanation why the viruses can be detected in benign human cancer precursors but not in advanced carcinoma.

Everyone is infected with skin-typical ("cutaneous") human papillomaviruses (HPV) at some point in their lives, usually in early childhood already. In healthy people, the immune system can fight off the viruses, but this often changes in older age. Recipients of organ transplants whose immune system is suppressed by long-term drug therapy to prevent transplant rejection are particularly at risk. These patients' risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer is up to 250 times higher than normal. Case numbers of non-melanoma skin cancer continue to rise.

Ultraviolet radiation exposure is generally known to be a major risk factor for skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer in fact occurs primarily on sun-exposed sites of the body. In addition, researchers have suspected for some time that certain types of human papillomaviruses (HPV) additionally play a role in cancer development. However, clues to prove this have been insufficient to date. Continue reading

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