Purpose: Human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 (HPV16) causes cancer at several anatomic sites. In the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition study, HPV16 E6 seropositivity was present more than 10 years before oropharyngeal cancer diagnosis and was nearly absent in controls. The current study sought to evaluate the extent to which HPV16 E6 antibodies are present before diagnosis of anogenital cancers within the same cohort.
Methods: Four hundred incident anogenital cancers (273 cervical, 24 anal, 67 vulvar, 12 vaginal, and 24 penile cancers) with prediagnostic blood samples (collected on average 3 and 8 years before diagnosis for cervix and noncervix cancers, respectively) and 718 matched controls were included. Plasma was analyzed for antibodies against HPV16 E6 and multiple other HPV proteins and genotypes and evaluated in relation to risk using unconditional logistic regression.
Results: HPV16 E6 seropositivity was present in 29.2% of individuals (seven of 24 individuals) who later developed anal cancer compared with 0.6% of controls (four of 718 controls) who remained cancer free (odds ratio [OR], 75.9; 95% CI, 17.9 to 321). HPV16 E6 seropositivity was less common for cancers of the cervix (3.3%), vagina (8.3%), vulva (1.5%), and penis (8.3%). No associations were seen for non–type 16 HPV E6 antibodies, apart from anti-HPV58 E6 and anal cancer (OR, 6.8; 95% CI, 1.4 to 33.1). HPV16 E6 seropositivity tended to increase in blood samples drawn closer in time to cancer diagnosis.
Conclusion: HPV16 E6 seropositivity is relatively common before diagnosis of anal cancer but rare for other HPV-related anogenital cancers.