Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

High-risk human papilloma virus (HPV) and survival in patients with esophageal carcinoma: a pilot study

Martin Dreilich1*, Michael Bergqvist1, Martin Moberg2, Daniel Brattström1, Inger Gustavsson2, Stefan Bergström1, Alkwin Wanders2, Patrik Hesselius1, Gunnar Wagenius1 and Ulf Gyllensten2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oncology, University Hospital, 751 85 Uppsala, Sweden

2 Department of Genetics and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, 751 85 Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:94  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-94

Published: 18 April 2006



Human papilloma virus (HPV) in patients with esophageal carcinoma has previously been studied with an average detection rate of 15%, but the role of HPV in relation to survival is less clear. In cervical cancer, lung cancer and tonsil cancer HPV viral load is a predictive factor for survival and outcome of treatment. The primary aim was to study the spectrum of high-risk HPV types in esophageal tumors. Secondary, as a pilot study we investigated the association between HPV status and the survival rates.


We compared both the presence and the viral load of high-risk HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 39, 45, 52, 58, and 67 in relation to clinical data from patients with esophageal carcinoma. Survival data and tumor samples were retrieved from 100 patients receiving treatment at the Department of Oncology, Uppsala Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden. The tumor samples were investigated for HPV viral load using real-time PCR.


HPV 16 was detected in 16% of the patients; no other HPV type was detected. HPV 16 infection had no significant effect on survival (p = 0.72). Also, HPV 16 did not improve survival after treatment (radiotherapy or chemotherapy).


Only HPV 16 was detected among the patients. HPV 16 in esophageal carcinoma patients did not influence survival or improve therapy response. However, given the size of the study there is a need to examine a larger cohort in order to understand in more detail the effect of high risk HPV types in esophageal carcinoma.