, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 339-348

Case-control study of risk factors for cervical neoplasia in Denmark. II. Role of sexual activity, reproductive factors, and venereal infections

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Abstract

Sexual, reproductive and venereal risk factors for cervical neoplasia were investigated in a population-based case-control study of 586 women with histologically verified, cervical squamous-cell carcinoma in situ, and 59 women with invasive squamous-cell cervical cancer, diagnosed from 1985 to 1986 in Copenhagen. Cases were identified from the computerized Danish Cancer Registry. An age-stratified control group (n=614) was drawn at random from the female population in the study area by means of the Danish Central Population Register. A structured questionnaire was mailed to cases as well as controls. Increasing number of sexual partners exerted a significant effect on the risk both for carcinoma in situ, and invasive cancer, independently of age at first intercourse and other potential confounders. Conversely, the association with early age at first intercourse became statistically insignificant after allowance for other risk factors, although an increasing risk was still observed with decreasing age at sexual debut. Early age at first episode with genital warts was a significant risk factor for carcinoma in situ, perhaps indicating a possible increased susceptibility of the cervix epithelium during adolescence. A history of genital warts was a good predictor of risk for carcinoma in situ, whereas a history of previous gonorrhea was associated with an increased risk for invasive carcinoma. Women with multiple births had a significantly increased adjusted risk, especially for carcinoma in situ, although some association was also observed with invasive cervical cancer. The study supports the hypothesis of cervical neoplasia being a sexually transmitted disease, and that carcinoma in situ and invasive cervical carcinoma, to a high degree, have similar patterns of risk factors.