Natural history and clearance of HPV after treatment of precancerous cervical lesions

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


Aim: To assess the clearance rate of human papillomavirus (HPV) after out-patient treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN).

Methods and results: A total of 122 Nicaraguan women with HPV DNA-positive and histologically confirmed CIN lesions were included in the study. Fifty-five patients with CIN1 and 67 with CIN2–3 were treated by cryotherapy and loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), respectively. Follow-up visits were scheduled at 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years. Investigations included cytology, HPV DNA testing and colposcopy/biopsy if needed. The clearance rate of HPV was calculated by multivariate logistic regression. Immediately after treatment, a pronounced decrease in presence of HPV was observed in both groups, with a significantly higher clearance in the LEEP group than in the cryotherapy group (P = 0.019). Subsequently, clearance continued over time and was similar between the cryotherapy group and the LEEP group (P = 0.73). Approximately the same detection rates were obtained for persistence of all HPV types and for high-risk types separately: 43.9, 37.6, 29.9 and 17.7% in the cryotherapy group and 24.9, 20.3, 15.3 and 8.4% in the LEEP group at 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years, respectively.

Conclusions: Out-patient treatment of precancerous lesions of the cervix usually results in clearance of HPV. Both LEEP and cryotherapy are highly effective methods of eradicating HPV. HPV DNA testing may have added value in the follow-up of patients.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.