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Cancer Genetics

Cervical Cancer and C-Quens Medication

12/29/2004

Question:

Recent studies indicate "mose"cervical cancer is caused by human papilloma virus. in 1969 I was using a birth control pill call "C-Quens" (which was eventually removed from the market). I was also diagnosed with Cervical cancer. My Dr. indicated it was caused by the birth control pills. Can you confirm this? Also, how does a "carrier" contract the human papilloma virus?

Answer:

The information on the association between birth control pills and cervical cancer is rather muddy right now.  It seems as though if a woman has an HPV infection and is using birth control pills, her risk of cervical cancer might be increased a bit (about 2x the risk for the average woman), but whether taking birth control pills increases the risk of cervical cancer without a previous HPV infection is not clear at all.

You are correct in that most cases of cervical cancer are associated with infection with specific strains of HPV (not all strains of HPV will lead to the development of cervical cancer).  HPV infections are actually rather common; HPV is transmitted during sexual intercourse, in the same way that sexually transmitted diseases are.  If one's partner happens to have an HPV infection, then it's a pretty good assumption that both partners will end up with an HPV infection.  Most of the time, there is no significant problem.

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Response by:

Duane D Culler, PhD, MS Duane D Culler, PhD, MS
Clinical Instructor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University