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International Primary Care Association

Clinical Focus Volume 5 N1

Volume 5 Issue 1 - 2011

Globally, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women with half a million new cases diagnosed annually and a quarter of a million deaths. The UK has one of the best cervical cancer screening programmes in the world, but even with this there are three thousand new cases of cervical cancer each year in the UK and a thousand deaths. Six percent of these deaths are in women under thirty.

Human papillomaviruses are DNA viruses that infect epithelial (skin or mucosal) cells. They are described as “genotypes” and numbered in order of their discovery.

HPV – structure

The virus particle or virion consists of a protein coat encapsidating a circular DNA molecule about 8000 base pairs (8kb) in size. High resolution electron microscopy reveals the virion to be a particle of about 55nm in diameter

The psychosocial effects of HPV-related disease may be related to the disease itself, its treatment and the knowledge that the disease is caused by HPV, a sexually transitted infection. There are also psychosocial consequences from the cervical screening programme, even among women who do not have disease.


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