Systemic lupus erythematosus, human papillomavirus infection, cervical pre-malignant and malignant lesions: a systematic review

Clin Rheumatol. 2011 May;30(5):665-72. doi: 10.1007/s10067-010-1606-0. Epub 2010 Oct 31.


The purpose of this study was to review and evaluate systematically the scientific evidence on the relationship between systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, pre-cancerous cervical abnormalities, and cervical cancer. Establishing strict inclusion and exclusion criteria, we performed an extensive search for studies in MEDLINE and BIREME databases to assess the studies that evaluated the frequency of HPV infection, pre-cancerous cervical abnormalities, and cervical cancer in women with SLE. Secondary references were additionally obtained from the included articles. Thirty-three articles met the criteria previously established. Fifteen out of 18 studies that performed cytological analysis showed a higher frequency of squamous intraepithelial lesions in SLE patients compared with normal women. Moreover, three studies found a higher frequency of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions. Additionally, it was observed that women with SLE had a higher frequency of HPV infection, confirmed by molecular biology techniques. Curiously, despite the above findings, no increased frequency of cervical cancer was observed in the majority of the studies which addressed this issue. Five studies observed a relationship between cervical abnormalities and previous use of immunosuppressive drugs. This review suggests that SLE patients seem not to be at increased risk for developing cervical cancer; however, they should be considered at higher risk for HPV infection and cervical dysplasia than the general population. Thus, gynecological visits at shorter intervals seem to be a reasonable approach for those patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / epidemiology*
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / epidemiology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / therapy
  • Research Design
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control


  • Immunosuppressive Agents