Herpes Virus Linked to Cervical Cancer
Appears to Be 'Accomplice' With Other Virus
WebMD News Archive
Although among the more common cancers affecting women, when
detected early -- via a Pap smear -- cervical cancer has a nearly 100% cure
rate. Since 1955, its death rate has decreased by 74%, primarily because of
increased use of Pap screenings. Most women have been advised to have at least
one screening a year; those who have gotten "abnormal" results may
require two or three per year. The American Cancer Society is expected to
announce new recommendations by month's end.
The herpes-2 virus is among several factors that work in
conjunction with HPV in boosting cervical cancer risk. Previous studies
indicate that using oral contraceptives for more than five years doubles the
risk in those with HPV, while having more than seven births boosts risk four
times. Other suspected co-factors include being sexually active in adolescence,
smoking, and giving birth before age 20.
There is no cure for HSV-2, which also is spread through
unprotected sexual contact and now infects an estimated one in five Americans
older than age 12, according to the CDC. When active, it can trigger painful
and highly infectious sores on the genitalia.
Another type of herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores on
the mouth - HSV-1 - has not been implicated in the HPV-cervical cancer link,