Is a Higher Risk of Cervical Dysplasia Linked to Lung Transplants in CF?

Cervical dysplasia, a precancerous condition, is defined as “the abnormal growth of cells on the surface of the cervix.” While it does not typically cause symptoms, it does lead to cervical cancer – the second leading cause of deaths due to cancer in women.

According to Cystic Fibrosis News Today, recent research has linked a heightened risk of cervical dysplasia to lung transplants in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). The study, which is titled “Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical dysplasia in adult female cystic fibrosis (CF) lung transplant recipients,” can be found in Thorax.

About the Study

Lung transplants are a treatment option for those with CF, and if a patient and their doctor decide that this is the correct choice, then they will go on to take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent transplant rejection. However – as the name suggests – these drugs also weaken the immune system. Armed with this knowledge, researchers wanted to investigate the connection between lung transplant recipients with CF and HPV-related related problems, such as cervical dysplasia.

In order to do so, they conducted a single-center research study with 98 participants (34 were CF patients who had undergone lung transplants, and 64 were controls). These patients records were taken and analyzed, with researchers examining Pap smears, surgical procedures, colonoscopies, refractory anogenital warts, cervical dysplasia, and the presence of cervical cancer. Results include:

  • 12 lung transplant recipients were discovered to have an abnormal Pap smear
    • Only one of these cases occurred before the procedure; 11 happened following lung transplants
    • Nine of 12 had cervical dysplasia, three had refractory anogenital warts, and two presented conditions that required a surgical removal of part or all of the vulva
    • Looking to cervical cancer, four of these 12 women developed the disease, and two women passed away due to complications related to metastasis
  • Lung transplant recipients with CF had a 4x higher risk of developing cervical dysplasia than controls

In looking at results related directly to HPV, the following was observed:

  • Nine of the CF patients had received their HPV vaccination, while 25 had not
    • None of the vaccinated patients experienced HPV-related complications
    • 12 of the unvaccinated patients experienced HPV-related complications

Looking Forward

The researchers note that further research is needed, especially research that utilizes larger patient cohorts. The knowledge gained from this research will be very useful, especially as there are no recommendations regarding the HPV vaccine before a lung transplant.

About Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

CF is a rare, genetic disorder that is characterized by the buildup of sticky, thick mucus that damages the respiratory and digestive systems. This mucus clogs the airways, which then causes breathing issues, trapped bacteria, lung damage, frequent infections, and respiratory failure. Beyond its damage to the lungs and airways, it also stops the release of digestive enzymes, stopping patients from absorbing the nutrients they need. Other symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Constipation
  • Stuffy nose
  • Difficulty with weight gain
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Persistent coughing and wheezing
  • Male infertility
  • Salty-tasting skin

These symptoms are the result of a mutated CFTR gene, which is passed down in an autosomal recessive pattern.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email