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Int J Cancer. 2012 Oct 15;131(8):1874-81. doi: 10.1002/ijc.27418. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Low risk of type-specific carcinogenic HPV re-appearance with subsequent cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2/3.

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  • 1Proyecto Epidemiológico Guanacaste, INCIENSA Foundation, San José, Costa Rica.


Carcinogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are very common after sexual debut and nearly all become undetectable ("clear") within a few years. Following clearance, the long-term risks of type-specific HPV re-appearance and subsequent risk of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2 or worse (CIN2+) are not well defined. In the 7-year, population-based cohort study in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, we studied how often type-specific carcinogenic HPV infections re-appeared after clearance and how often re-appearance led to CIN2+. We considered 1,740 carcinogenic HPV infections detected by MY09/11 PCR among 2,805 women (18-91 years old, median 34) who were actively followed at 6- or 12-month intervals. We identified women with one or more type-specific HPV infections that cleared and re-appeared and further defined a subgroup of "definite clearance and re-appearance" (≥2 intervening negative results over a period of ≥1 year). We determined the absolute risk of CIN2+ among the different groups. p values are two-sided. Only 7.7% (81/1,052) of HPV-infected women had intervening negative results. Very few (3.7%, 39/1,052) had "definite clearance and re-appearance", of which 5.1% (2/39) subsequently persisted to a diagnosis of CIN2. There were zero CIN3+ lesions. Extremely few women (2/2,805 of women in our cohort) had a type-specific carcinogenic HPV infection clear, re-appear and lead to CIN2+. If confirmed, this argues against vaccination to avoid re-appearance that leads to precursor lesions and against the need of frequent HPV screening after initial negative results.

Copyright © 2011 UICC.

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