The association between common urogenital infections and cervical neoplasia – A nationwide cohort study of over four million women (2002–2018)

Elsevier, The Lancet Regional Health - Europe, Volume 17, June 2022
Jansaker F., Li X., Knudsen J.D., Frimodt-Moller N., Borgfeldt C., Sundquist K.

Background: Cervical cancer is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in women worldwide. This study aimed to estimate the association between common urogenital infections and cervical neoplasia. Methods: A multi-register national cohort study of 4,120,557 women aged ≥15 years (2002–2018) was conducted. The outcomes were cervical cancer and carcinoma in situ (Swedish Cancer Register). The main predictors were urogenital infections—(urinary) cystitis, (bacterial) vaginosis, (candida) vulvovaginitis. Incidence rates per 10,000 person-years were calculated (using the European Standard Population). Cox regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) while adjusting for possible confounders—other genital infections (e.g., cervicitis, salpingitis, urogenital herpes), parity, and sociodemographic factors. Findings: In 39·0 million person-years of follow-up, the incidence rate for cervical cancer was 1·2 (95% CI 1·1–1·2) per 10,000 person-years and the figure for cervical carcinoma in situ was more than tenfold higher. The fully adjusted HRs for cervical cancer were 1·31 (95% CI 1·15 and 1·48) and 1·22 (95% CI 1·16 and 1·29) for vaginosis and cystitis, respectively. Vaginosis showed a gradient association to carcinoma in situ. Vulvovaginitis was inversely associated with cervical cancer, but not significantly related with carcinoma in situ in the fully adjusted model. A temporal association with cervical cancer was observed for vaginosis and vulvovaginitis (inversely) but not for cystitis. Interpretation: In this large nationwide cohort of women, medically attended common urogenital infections were independently associated with cervical neoplasia, but cystitis was not temporally associated with cervical neoplasia. These findings could be used to increase focus on preventive measures, HPV-vaccination programmes, HPV-analyses- and cervical cancer screening, especially in women suffering from vaginosis. Future studies on the causal mechanism are warranted before generalized public health recommendations can be made. Funding: Region Skåne, Tore Nilsons Stiftelse, and Swedish Society of Medicine.