Skin cancer and papillomavirus infection
Papillomavirus infection is often associated with cervical cancer in women, but it will also increase the risk of skin cancer in both men and women. These viruses are the cause of genital and non-genital warts, and there are certain subtypes of papillomavirus more associated with cancer incidence than others.
The association of papillomavirus infections and long-term steroid treatment is very dangerous because it significantly increases the risk of skin cancer. That is because papillomavirus promotes the formation of cancer cells while steroid treatment suppresses the immune system and shut down the entire process of detection and destruction of cancer cells.
The most commonly researched types of papillomavirus cause sexually transmitted diseases and genital cancer, but we have more than 100 variants to study. Among them, we have viruses that do not need any sexual contact to spread and lead to the formation of non-genital warts that increase the risk of skin cancer. These variants are known as cutaneous human papillomavirus (HPV), and patients with a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma are very likely to be infected with more variants of cutaneous HPV than the general population.
A combination of cutaneous HPV infection and frequent exposure to ultraviolet radiation has a cumulative effect. Thus, these patients have a significantly higher risk of developing skin cancer, even if they have an intact immune system.
Still, what we have discovered is an association between HPV infection and a higher incidence of skin cancer. This is not the same as pointing out HPV infections as a direct cause of cutaneous cancer, and more research is required before jumping to conclusions. However, this association shows that there is much more about skin cancer than usually meets the eye.