Frequent gain of the human telomerase gene TERC at 3q26 in cervical adenocarcinomas
BACKGROUND Effective screening programs have contributed to a decrease in the incidence of cervical squamous cell carcinomas but have had a limited sensitivity in the detection of adenocarcinoma precursor lesions. The aim of our study was to analyze cervical adenocarcinoma in greater detail: symptoms preceding the detection, the method of detection and the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) with respect to age at diagnosis. MATERIAL AND METHODS Clinical data were abstracted from the medical records of 82 women with pure invasive cervical adenocarcinomas. As diagnostic tools we used polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and/or direct DNA sequencing for HPV detection. RESULTS Age at diagnosis predicting factors were HPV status, positive lymph nodes, histology and stage. HPV-negativity, lymph node metastases, advanced stage and poor differentiation were all associated with a high diagnostic age. In the multivariate analysis only HPV status was shown to have an independent impact on age at diagnosis, while stage showed only borderline significance. Twenty-three percent of the cancers were detected by screening and the remaining were due to different symptoms. Among the women considered, 93% had a normal Papanicolaou (Pap) smear 3 years before diagnosis and 60% within 1 year. There was no significant correlation between smoking, oral contraceptives and HPV-positivity. CONCLUSIONS The absence of HPV was significantly associated with a high age at diagnosis. Pap screening had a limited effect in detecting adenocarcinoma at an early stage.