Background: Little is known about the duration of precancerous cervical lesions in relation to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. We estimated rates of progression and regression and sojourn times of cervical squamous intraepithelial lesions (SILs) according to HPV status. Methods: We used data from a longitudinal study of HPV infection and cervical neoplasia in São Paulo, Brazil. Cervical specimens were taken from 2404 women for Pap cytology and polymerase chain reaction-based HPV testing every 4-6 months over a period of 8 years. We used actuarial and non-actuarial analyses to measure time to and rates of lesion progression and regression according to status and type of HPV infection. Results: During follow-up, 118 low-grade SIL (LSIL), 24 high-grade SIL (HSIL), and 173 atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) events were detected. Mean time to progression from ASCUS to LSIL or worse and from LSIL to HSIL or worse was shorter in women with oncogenic HPV types than in women with no HPV infection (mean times for ASCUS progression were 67.0 and 88.0 months, respectively, in women with oncogenic HPV and no HPV, difference = 21.0 months, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 11.3 to 30.7 months; mean times for LSIL progression were 73.3 and 83.5 months, respectively, difference = 10.2 months, 95% CI = -0.15 to 20.6 months). Half of the LSILs regressed to normal or ASCUS within 6 months. Mean times for regression from ASCUS to normal, from LSIL to ASCUS or normal, and from HSIL/cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2 to ASCUS or normal were longer for women with oncogenic HPV types (16.8 months, 95% CI = 7.5 to 26.2 months; 13.8 months, 95% CI = 8.8 to 18.7 months; and 17.1 months, 95% CI = 4.1 to 30.1 months, respectively) than for women with non-oncogenic HPV types (7.7 months, 95% CI = 5.2 to 10.2 months; 7.8 months, 95% CI = 5.3 to 10.2 months; 8.9 months, 95% CI = 3.3 to 14.6 months) or for women with no HPV infection (7.6 months, 95% CI = 6.9 to 8.4 months; 7.6 months, 95% CI = 6.4 to 8.7 months; and 7.0 months, 95% CI = 5.0 to 8.9 months, respectively). Conclusion: Precursor lesions of the cervix persist longer and progress more quickly in women with oncogenic HPV infections than in women with non-oncogenic infections or without HPV. Testing cervical lesions for oncogenic HPVs may help identify those that are likely to progress rapidly.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research