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Research projects

HPV induced cancer

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress


Gabriella Lillsunde-Larsson

Cancer affects men and women in all ages. Numbers from 2012 (Plummer et al 2012) show that 14 million people got a cancer diagnosis throughout the world. Among those cases, 15% are caused by infections and human papillomavirus (HPV) stands for about 600 000 cases. The association between HPV and cancer were first shown for cervical cancer in the 1970s , and this discovery by the group of Harald zur Hausen gave him the Nobel prize in 2008. Later, high risk HPV genotypes have also been found in other genital cancers such as vulvar-, vaginal-, anal- and penile cancers. Also, HPV can be the cause of cancer in head- and neck tumours and can also indicate treatment regime.

The largest amount of HPV induced cancers is by far cervical cancers and the highest incidence of disease is found in countries that lack screening programs for precursor lesions and vaccination for HPV. Because a persistent infection of HPV is necessary for cancer development in most cases, the screening for disease is gradually shifting from cytology assessment as primary test towards HPV testing and HPV primary testing is recommended in Sweden since 2015.

Our research aims are to better understand the biology behind development of HPV-induced cancer but also to evaluate the impact of HPV for patient prognosis. Projects include screening studies and cohort studies of genital and head- and neck tumors.

Within our screening projects we want to evaluate genotype distribution in different age groups, persistence, and latency of HPV. Because of the shift towards HPV as primary screening method, we also want to evaluate self-testing for HPV analysis as compared to samples taken by midwife. Within cancer cohorts, we aim to evaluate the occurrence of HPV and HPV related markers in relation to patient prognosis. It is important to identify markers that indicate disease progression such as recurrences and metastatic disease.