Melanoma and human papillomaviruses: is there an outlook for study? Review of the literature

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Melanoma is one of the most aggressive human malignant tumors. Its incidence and mortality are growing steadily. Ultraviolet irradiation is the main risk factor for melanoma, however it seems not to be the sole environmental factor involved in melanomagenesis.

Probability of viral etiology of melanoma has been discussed for a long time. Human papillomaviruses have been mentioned among candidates for its etiologic agents. Much interest in these viruses is due to the fact that powerful carcinogens causing cervical cancer and some other cancer types are members of this group. The aim of the review is analysis of literature data on association of melanoma with human papillomaviruses.

Several groups found papillomaviruses in skin melanomas as well as in mucous ones; viruses if high oncogenic risk were detected in some cases. In majority of the studies in which viral DNA-positive melanomas were found testing for viral genome expression was not done. Objective difficulty of such studies is the problem of negative control as papillomaviruses are being routinely found in normal skin and mucous membranes thus creating justifiable threat of tumor specimen contamination with viral DNA in vivo. Complex approach might become helpful in overcoming this obstacle: detecting of viral DNA, viral oncogenes’ mRNAs and corresponding proteins.

There are limited data on aggravation of the disease prognosis in papillomavirus-positive melanomas. However systematic observation of some sizeable patients’ contingents differing in the given tumor character has not been performed yet.

The problem of melanoma association with human papillomaviruses remains unsolved

About the authors

G. M. Volgareva

N.N. Blokhin Cancer Research Center, Moscow

Author for correspondence.
PhD in Biology Russian Federation

I. N. Mikhaylova

N.N. Blokhin Cancer Research Center, Moscow

MD, PhD Russian Federation

D. A. Golovina

N.N. Blokhin Cancer Research Center, Moscow

PhD in Biology Russian Federation


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