Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a well-known cause of squamous cell carcinomas of anogenital and oropharyngeal regions, where treatment strategies and prognosis depend on HPV status. The significance of HPV status in tumors arising along the urinary tract is not well established.


To provide detailed clinical, morphologic, immunohistochemical, and molecular analysis of HPV+ urinary tract carcinomas (UTCs).


We identified and retrospectively examined 12 HPV+ UTCs, confirmed by high-risk HPV in situ hybridization.


The HPV+ UTCs originated from the urethra (9) and urinary bladder (3); 5 of 12 (42%) presented with nodal metastasis. On morphology, HPV+ UTCs were predominantly basaloid; well-differentiated squamous areas were focally seen. Available immunohistochemistry (IHC) showed strong staining for p16 (11 of 11), p63 (12 of 12), cytokeratin (CK) 903 (11 of 11), and CK5/6 (11 of 11); variable staining for GATA3 (8 of 12) and CK7 (4 of 11); and rare uroplakin II staining (1 of 12). Molecular analysis revealed the most frequently altered genes: KMT2C (42%), PIK3CA (42%), and KMT2D (25%). In contrast to published conventional urothelial and squamous cell carcinoma molecular data, TERTp mutation was rare (8%), and no TP53 or CDKN2A aberrations were identified. During available follow-up (11 of 12; median, 39 months), 6 patients required treatment for recurrence; ultimately, 1 died of disease, 2 were alive with disease, and 8 had no evidence of disease. Finally, we provide 11 HPV squamous predominant UTCs for IHC and molecular comparisons; notably, a subset of HPV UTCs was positive for p16 IHC (27%), making p16 IHC a less-specific surrogate marker for HPV status at this site.


HPV+ UTCs show distinct clinical, morphologic, and molecular characteristics, suggesting important roles for HPV in UTC.

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Author notes

This study was funded by the University of California San Francisco Department of Pathology Research Endowment award to Kayraklioglu.

Competing Interests

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

This work was presented as a platform presentation at the 2022 United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology Annual meeting; March 21, 2022; Los Angeles, California.

Supplementary data