American Association for Cancer Research

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Scientists Identify Common HPV Genotypes in Northern India, Encourage Vaccination


October 10, 2009


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BOSTON - Although a wide spectrum of human papillomavirus is seen across the population of India, HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the most common types and a vaccination targeting these types could eliminate 75 percent of the cervical cancers in the region, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Basic Cancer Research Meeting.


Cervical cancer caused by HPV is the most common cancer among Indian women, with an estimated 132,000 new cases and 74,000 deaths annually.

"In terms of cancer death, India has one fourth of the global burden and when you standardize for age it is the highest in the world," said A. Raj Kumar Patro, a doctoral student in the Department of Microbiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. "Most women present with an advanced state of the disease and compliance with treatment is very poor."

To effectively vaccinate against HPV, scientists need a greater understanding of the genotype. More than 100 HPV genotypes have been identified in humans and at least 40 are found in the anogenital tract, which makes HPV a moving target.

Patro and colleagues examined 106 women with invasive cervical cancer, 524 women with an unhealthy cervix and a community-based population of women who underwent HPV testing.

Among the women with invasive cervical cancer, 83 percent were linked with HPV-16 or HPV-18. Of those who presented with an unhealthy cervix, 15.5 percent had HPV. HPV-16 and HPV-18 were associated with 34.3 percent of normal disease, 45.4 percent of low-grade disease and 65.7 percent of high grade disease. Overall HPV prevalence in the community cohort was 7 percent.

Patro said the HPV vaccine is generally well received in India, with none of the moral or religious objections like those seen in the United States. However, economics remains a significant barrier.

"The vaccine is better accepted than screening in most cases, but it is difficult for most of the population to purchase it at the current price," said Patro. "At present it is purchased by the upper classes and if it becomes freely available through advocacy and outreach efforts, it could reach the general population."

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 30,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and nearly 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowship and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 16,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

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