Medline: 1428106

IARC Scientific Publications 119: 3-23, 1992.

Epidemiology of cervical cancer--overview.

Brinton LA


Numerous studies of the epidemiology of cervical cancer have shown strong associations with religious, marital and sexual patterns. Although it is well established that women with multiple partners and early ages at first intercourse are at high risk, less is known about how these factors interact or how risk is affected by specific sexual characteristics. Recent studies indicate that number of steady partners and frequent intercourse at early ages may further enhance risk, supporting hypotheses regarding a vulnerable period of the cervix and a need for repeated exposure to an infectious agent. It is now widely accepted that HPV is the major infectious etiological agent, but whether other infectious agents play supportive or interactive roles is unclear. Of specific interest is the independent effect of HSV 2 on risk, especially given some evidence that this viral agent may interact with HPV. Other speculative risk factors for cervical cancer include cigarette smoking, oral contraceptive usage and certain nutritional deficiencies, but again it is not clear whether these factors operate independently from HPV. Although cervical cancer incidence trends correlate with the population prevalence of various venereally transmitted agents, it is not certain how disease rates are affected by other potential risk factors which have changed during recent time (e.g., exposure to HPV, sexual behaviour, cigarette smoking). In addition, a number of recent studies highlight the need for considering not only female influences on risk of cervical cancer, but also male factors, since the sexual behaviour of the male consort appears to play an important role. (128 Refs)

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Dr. G. Quade