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The male role in cervical cancer

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Author(s): Castellsagué Xavier | Bosch F Xavier | Muñoz Nubia

Journal: Salud Pública de México
ISSN 0036-3634

Volume: 45;
Issue: suppl.3;
Start page: 345;
Date: 2003;
Original page

Keywords: cervix neoplasms | human papillomavirus | sexually transmitted infections | male role

ABSTRACT
Experimental, clinical, and epidemiological evidence strongly suggests that genital Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs) are predominantly sexually transmitted. Epidemiological studies in virginal and HPV-negative women clearly indicate that sexual intercourse is virtually a necessary step for acquiring HPV. As with any other sexually transmitted disease (STD) men are implicated in the epidemiological chain of the infection. Penile HPVs are predominantly acquired through sexual contacts. Sexual contacts with women who are prostitutes play an important role in HPV transmission and in some populations sex workers may become an important reservoir of high-risk HPVs. Acting both as "carriers" and "vectors" of oncogenic HPVs male partners may markedly contribute to the risk of developing cervical cancer in their female partners. Thus, in the absence of screening programs, a woman's risk of cervical cancer may depend less on her own sexual behavior than on that of her husband or other male partners. Although more rarely than women, men may also become the "victims" of their own HPV infections as a fraction of infected men are at an increased risk of developing penile and anal cancers. Male circumcision status has been shown to reduce the risk not only of acquiring and transmitting genital HPVs but also of cervical cancer in their female partners. More research is needed to better understand the natural history and epidemiology of HPV infections in men.
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