The belief that a virus that causes genital warts is also the cause of cervical cancer has been discounted following a study of 200 women.
The virus, human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16), has been found in up to 70 per cent of cases of cervical cancer, but researchers at the Royal Free Hospital in London say it is wrong to single it out as the cause.
Their findings mean a basic change in monitoring among gynecologists. Instead of looking for the virus, they should carefully monitor the make-up of minor-grade cervical disease to determine if it is likely to develop into a serious condition, researchers recommend.
In a study of 200 women, the research team discovered that there was no difference in the progress of disease in women whether they were HPV16-positive or not. They monitored the women for nearly six years.
!AThe Lancet, 13 August 1994.