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Dis Markers. 2007;23(4):213-27.

The epidemiology of human papillomavirus infection and cervical cancer.

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  • 1Institut Català d'Oncologia, Epidemiology and Cancer Registration Unit, E-08907 L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain.


Cervical cancer has been recognized as a rare outcome of a common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). The etiologic association is restricted to a limited number of viral types of the family of the Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs). The association is causal in nature and under optimal testing systems, HPV DNA can be identified in all specimens of invasive cervical cancer. As a consequence, it has been claimed that HPV infection is a necessary cause of cervical cancer. The evidence is consistent worldwide and implies both the Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC), the adenocarcinomas and the vast majority (i.e. > 95%) of the immediate precursors, namely High Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions (HSIL)/Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia 3 (CIN3)/Carcinoma in situ. Co-factors that modify the risk among HPV DNA positive women include the use of oral contraceptives (OC) for five or more years, smoking, high parity (five or more full term pregnancies) and previous exposure to other sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia Trachomatis (CT) and Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 (HSV-2). Women exposed to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are at high risk for HPV infection, HPV DNA persistency and progression of HPV lesions to cervical cancer.

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