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J Obstet Gynaecol. 2019 Sep 10:1-7. doi: 10.1080/01443615.2019.1634030. [Epub ahead of print]

Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos/Lagos University Teaching Hospital , Lagos , Nigeria.


Cervical cancer is by far the most common HPV-related disease. About 99.7% of cervical cancer cases are caused by persistent genital high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Worldwide, cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women with an estimated 528,000 new cases reported in 2012. Most HPV infections clear spontaneously but persistent infection with the oncogenic or high-risk types may cause cancer of the oropharynx and anogenital regions. The virus usually infects the mucocutaneous epithelium and produces viral particles in matured epithelial cells and then causes a disruption in normal cell-cycle control and the promotion of uncontrolled cell division leading to the accumulation of genetic damage. There are currently two effective prophylactic vaccines against HPV infection, and these comprise of HPV types 16 and 18, and HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 virus-like particles. HPV testing in the secondary prevention of cervical cancer is clinically valuable in triaging low-grade cytological abnormalities and is also more sensitive than cytology as a primary screening. If these prevention strategies can be implemented in both developed and developing countries, many thousands of lives could be saved.


Cervical cancer; HPV vaccines; high-risk HPV; screening; triaging

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