979-Papillomaviruses and Cervical Cancer

Course # DL-979: Papillomaviruses and Cervical Cancer

by Lucy Treagan, Ph.D. - Prof. Biol. Emerita - University of San Francisco

Approved for 2.0 CE
Level of Difficulty: Beginning to Intermediate


Papillomaviruses are small DNA viruses that infect mucosal and cutaneous epithelium and cause benign hyperproliferative lesions recognized as warts. These viruses are widely spread in the environment. Infection with papillomaviruses is common in humans and in many animal species, including rabbits, cows, dogs, dolphins, and porpoises. Papillomaviruses are highly specific for their respective hosts. Cutaneous types of HPVs infect the skin of the hands and feet causing formation of warts. Mucosal types infect the lining of the mouth, throat, respiratory tract, and anogenital epithelium. Genital, respiratory, and conjunctival papillomas are among several manifestations of these infections. In most cases, the infection is cleared following activation of the host immune response against the virus. Occasionally, the lesions do not regress and can progress to cancer under appropriate environmental conditions.


After completing this course the participant will be able to:

  1. summarize the principal characteristics of human papillomaviruses (HPVs), including their structure and classification.
  2. explain the link between HPV infection and cervical cancer.
  3. discuss the role of HPVs as etiological agents of skin and genital warts.
  4. list various clinical conditions associated with HPV infections.
  5. outline the pathogenesis of HPV infection.
  6. describe host and viral factors that contribute to progression of HPV infection to malignancy.
  7. summarize current diagnostic methods and treatment options.
  8. contrast the principal characteristics of the two vaccines developed for prevention of HPV infection.
  9. discuss the potential effect of HPV vaccination on the incidence of cervical cancer.


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