Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Women with HPV may be at higher risk for cervical cancer, but appear not to show cellular abnormalities, report researchers in Sweden.
Those findings appeared Monday in the peer-reviewed journal CANCER, which is based on a study of 576 women with liquid-based cytology of the cervix over nine years.
Of that group, 92 showed high-grade pre-cancerous cervical changes and four developed cervical cancer, both linked to HPV16 and HPV18. The two strains appeared more commonly in women age 30 and younger, and contributed to a higher risk for that age group, while women over 30 were found to be at the increased risk with HPV16, HPV18 and additional types of the virus.
Another study has linked HPV16 to most oropharyngeal, anal, penile, vulvar and vaginal cancers.
"These findings can help in the ongoing development of guidelines for cervical cancer screening. They strongly indicate that testing for HPV needs to be incorporated into screening programs," Sonia Andersson, researcher from the Karolinska University Hospital and Institute in Sweden and study-principal investigator, said in a press release.
HPV infects 14 million men and women and causes cancer in 33,700 in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although HPV isn't the only cause of cervical cancer, it's still one of the most common.
Each year, more than 13,000 women receive cervical cancer diagnosis and over 4,000 women die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
People can protect themselves against all forms of HPV with a simple vaccine.
"Women younger than 30 with a positive HPV16 or HPV18 finding need to be closely followed, whereas other HPV types are much less likely to be associated with increased risk in these younger women. Among women above age 30, any HPV positive finding should be closely followed." Andersson said.