The causative agent for cervical dysplasia is HPV, Human Papplillomavirus.HPV is perhaps the most common, sexually transmitted disease, and it is estimated that over 60% of sexually active women younger than 35 have been exposed to HPV (59). There are over 100 different subtypes of HPV, thirty of which are transmitted through sexual contact. The subtypes of HPV transmitted sexually can be placed in a high or low risk group. Those in the low risk group are responsible for benign lesions such as genital warts, while those in the high-risk group are responsible for cervical cancer. They are also thought to be responsible for other cancers, such as vaginal, anal, and penile cancer. Unfortunately, most infected individuals are unaware they have the virus and the virus may be present for many years before causing any abnormalities in a cervical screening.
Risk Factor Modification
The ideal method of prevention of any disease is to never contract it. The same holds true for cervical cancer. Smoking is thought to influence the local immunological defenses in the cervix, thereby preventing the host from adequately defending against HPV infection. Smoking cessation would allow a woman a better chance of viral elimination. The overall health benefits from smoking cessation are limitless and should be encouraged in every health arena.
Many risk factors involve sexual contact in order to transmit HPV. The prevention of direct skin-to-skin contact with an individual would decrease the transmission. The use of condoms has been proven to reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and evidence suggests their use decreases the risk of transmitting HPV. It is important to stress this to all sexually active persons. Beginning sexual activity within 1 year of starting menses increases a woman’s lifetime risk of cervical cancer 26-fold, as opposed to beginning sexual activity after age 23 (59). However, all sexually active people are at risk for contracting HPV.