Aim: To evaluate the prevalence of abnormalities of the uterine cervix in women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) when compared to healthy controls.
Methods: One hundred and sixteen patients with IBD [64 with Crohn's disease (CD) and 52 with ulcerative colitis (UC)] were matched to 116 healthy controls by age (+/- 2 years) at the time of most recent papanicolaou (Pap) smear. Data collected consisted of age, race, marital status, number of pregnancies, abortions/miscarriages, duration and severity of IBD, Pap smear results within five years of enrollment, and treatment with immunosuppressive drugs. Pap smear results were categorized as normal or abnormal including atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS), low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LGSIL), and high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HGSIL).
Results: The median age at the time of Pap smear was 46 (range: 17-74) years for the IBD group and matched controls (range: 19-72 years). There were more Caucasian subjects than other ethnicities in the IBD patient group (P = 0.025), as well as fewer abortions (P = 0.008), but there was no significant difference regarding marital status. Eighteen percent of IBD patients had abnormal Pap smears compared to 5% of controls (P = 0.004). Subgroup analysis of the IBD patients revealed no significant differences between CD and UC patients in age, ethnicity, marital status, number of abortions, disease severity, family history of IBD, or disease duration. No significant difference was observed in the number of abnormal Pap smears or the use of immunosuppressive medications between CD and UC patients (P = 0.793). No definitive observation could be made regarding HPV status, as this was not routinely investigated during the timeframe of our study.
Conclusion: Diagnosis of IBD in women is related to an increased risk of abnormal Pap smear, while type of IBD and exposure to immunosuppressive medications are not. This has significant implications for women with IBD in that Pap smear screening protocols should be conscientiously followed, with appropriate investigation of abnormal results.