Introduction: Many studies have already shown the association of persistent infection of human high risk papillomavirus (HPV) with the development of pre-invasive and invasive cervical disease.
Materials and methods: We evaluated the use of high risk HPV testing in a study of about 1908 women, aged 29-78, who attending, from 1996 to 1998, the Sant'Anna Hospital in Turin for routine, second level smears and histopathological diagnosis. We considered all cervical lesions: ASCUS, LSIL, HSIL, squamous and adeno invasive cancers. HPV testing was performed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using L1 consensus primers which can detect almost all infections (high and low risk types). The most important high risk HPV types (16, 18, 31, 33 and 35) were tested using specific primers.
Results: The prevalence of high risk HPV was: ASCUS 42.2%, LSIL 39%, HSIL 73.5%, squamous invasive cancers 98.3% and adeno 100%. In addition HPV 16 is the most represented type in all lesions: ASCUS 40%, LSIL 62%, HSIL 71.2% squamous invasive cancers 73.3% and adeno 50.6%. In addition we study the mean age of cervical cancer onset compared with the different high risk HPV types. We found that HPV 18 related cancer occurs in younger women (mean age 41 years; range 39-42).
Conclusions: The addition of high risk HPV testing to cytology may improve early identification of women at risk for cervical cancer.