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News of the Day ... In Perspective

2/15/2007

HPV 58 and multiple genotypes increase risk of cervical cancer

Just as the FDA was approving Gardasil, the Merck vaccine for human papillomavirus, a study found that HPV type 58, not included in the vaccine, is far more oncogenic when found in co-infections with other HPV types (AJCP News July 10 2006).

The study was published in the July 2006 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

“Women who harbor multiple infections are at higher risk for cervical lesions than those ever infected with one type only and should be followed more closely,” stated Eduardo L. Franco, DrPH, leader of the study.

The multiple infections could act synergistically to increase precancerous mutations or to expedite their progression to cancer. They could also indicate that a woman’s immune system is not very effective at clearing viruses.

Just over 12% of the women were infected with multiple HPV types during the first year; the percentage had increased to 22% by the fourth year.

Results suggest that the Pap smear should be replaced with a test for the presence of HPV.

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