Human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 (HPV16) seropositivity is relatively common before anal cancer diagnosis, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition Study, HPV16 E6 seropositivity was present more than 10 years before oropharyngeal cancer diagnosis.

With this in mind, Aimée R. Kreimer, Ph.D., from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues examined the extent to which HPV16 E6 antibodies are present before diagnosis of anogenital cancers. Prediagnostic blood samples were included for 400 incident anogenital cancers (273 cervical, 24 anal, 67 vulvar, 12 vaginal, and 24 penile) and 718 matched controls.

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The researchers found that 29.2 percent of individuals who later developed anal cancer and 0.6 percent of controls who remained cancer free had HPV16 E6 positivity (odds ratio, 75.9).

For cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, and penis, HPV16 E6 seropositivity was less common (3.3, 8.3, 1.5, and 8.3 percent, respectively). 

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There were no associations noted for non-type 16 HPV E6 antibodies, except for anti-HPV58 E6 and anal cancer (odds ratio, 6.8). In blood samples drawn closer in time to cancer diagnosis, HPV16 E6 seropositivity tended to increase.

“HPV16 E6 seropositivity is relatively common before diagnosis of anal cancer but rare for other HPV-related anogenital cancers,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry; two authors disclosed holding patents relating to the study topic.


  1. Kreimer, Aimée R., et al. “Human Papillomavirus Antibodies and Future Risk of Anogenital Cancer: A Nested Case-Control Study in the European Prospective Investigation Into Canre and Nutrition Study.” Journal of Clinical Oncology. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.57.8435. February 9, 2015.