High-grade vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: comprehensive characterization and long-term vulvar carcinoma risk

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Aims: Adequate diagnosis of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL) and HPV-independent vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) is essential but can be challenging. We comprehensively characterized a large population-based series of vulvar lesions, originally reported as high-grade VIN, and assessed the cancer risk. Methods and results: Baseline high-grade VIN of 751 patients were categorized by histopathological reassessment, integrating the results of immunohistochemistry (p16INK4a, p53, Ki-67) and HPV DNA testing. Integrated analyses resulted in 88.4% HPV-associated lesions (77.0% HSIL, 10.9% low-grade SIL [LSIL], and 0.4% vulvar squamous cell carcinoma [VSCC]), 10.9% HPV-independent lesions (6.1% HPV-independent VIN, 4.7% nondysplastic lesions, and 0.1% VSCC) and 1.1% inconclusive lesions. HSIL demonstrated p16INK4a block-positivity in 99.0%, increased Ki-67 in ≥2/3rd of the epithelium in 93.6%, and HPV positivity in 99.6%. In HSIL, a p53 wildtype mid-epithelial staining pattern was common (51.6%) while this was not observed in HPV-independent lesions. HPV-independent VIN harboured mutant p53 patterns in 65.2% and showed a wide morphological spectrum, ranging from differentiated to nondifferentiated (‘HPV-associated-like’, in 41.3%). Kaplan–Meier analyses showed a 10-year cancer risk of 8.0% in HPV-associated HSIL, 67.4% in HPV-independent VIN/p53mutant, and 27.8% in HPV-independent VIN/p53wildtype. Strikingly, the 10-year cancer risk was 73.3% in HPV-independent VIN with nondifferentiated (‘HPV-associated-like’) morphology. Conclusion: Immunohistochemistry by p16INK4a and p53 is highly recommended for optimal categorization into HPV-associated and HPV-independent VIN, which is of utmost importance given the different cancer risk. The high cancer risk of HPV-independent VIN underscores the need for surgical treatment and close follow-up, especially in case of a p53 mutant pattern and/or nondifferentiated morphology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-314
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • HPV
  • HSIL
  • cancer risk
  • dVIN
  • vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia

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