Circulating cell-free HPV DNA is a strong marker for disease severity in cervical cancer

Sara Bønløkke*, Torben Steiniche, Boe Sandahl Sorensen, Gitte-Bettina Nyvang, Jacob Christian Lindegaard, Jan Blaakær, Jesper Bertelsen, Katrine Fuglsang, Mikael Lenz Strube, Suzan Lenz, Magnus Stougaard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


For cervical cancer (CC), circulating cell-free HPV DNA (ccfHPV) may establish disease severity. Furthermore, HPV integration has been correlated to viral load and survival. In this study, pre-treatment plasma from 139 CC cases (50 primary surgery patients, 22 primary surgery+adjuvant oncological therapy patients, and 67 primary oncological therapy patients) was collected (2018-2020). Furthermore, plasma from 25 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 (CIN3) patients and 15 healthy women (negative controls) were collected. Two next-generation sequencing (NGS) panels were used to establish ccfHPV presence and human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) integration status. ccfHPV was detected in four primary surgery (8.0%), eight primary surgery+adjuvant oncology (36.4%), and 54 primary oncology (80.6%) patients. For primary oncology patients with HPV16-related cancer (n=37), more ccfHPVneg than ccfHPVpos patients had HPV16 integration (p=0.04), and, in patients with HPV16 integration (n=13), ccfHPVpos patients had higher disease stages than ccfHPVneg patients (p=0.05). In summary, ccfHPV presence is related to disease severity and may add to the debated Sedlis criteria used for identifying patients for adjuvant oncological therapy. However, ccfHPV detection is influenced by HPV integration status and disease stage, and these factors need to be considered in ccfHPVneg patients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Oncology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Cervical cander
  • HPV
  • Next generation sequencing
  • Circulation HPV DNA
  • HPV integration
  • Sedlis criteria


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