Intrauterine devices (IUDs) could protect against the third-most common cancer in women worldwide. A new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that occurrence of cervical cancer was dramatically reduced by using IUD.
The analysis involved data from sixteen high-quality observational studies (n>12000) and showed that in women who used an IUD, the incidence of cervical cancer was third lower.
The lead author of the study, Victoria Cortessis said that "The possibility that a woman could experience some help with cancer control at the same time she is making contraception decisions could potentially be very, very impactful."
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that approximately 528,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer globally in 2012, and 266,000 women died from the disease. The diagnosis and death rate of cervical cancer may increase to >756,000 and 416,000, respectively by 2035.
Cortessis explains that a contraceptive device, IUD that provides protection against cervical cancer could have a profound effective for women in developing countries that lack cervical cancer prevention resources and where populations are increasing rapidly.
“A staggering number of women in the developing world are on the verge of entering the age range where the risk for cervical cancer is the highest — the 30s to the 60s. Even if the rate of cervical cancer remains steady, the actual number of women with cervical cancer is poised to explode. IUDs could be a tool to combat this impending epidemic,” Cortessis said.
IUDs for protection against cervical cancer was not recommended yet, but it could be on the horizon. Further studies are required to understand the mechanism of action behind the protective effect of IUDs.
The placement of an IUD could stimulate an immune response in the cervix giving the body an opportunity to fight an existing HPV infection which could cause cervical cancer. Removal of an IUD could scrape off some cervical cells that contain HPV infection or precancerous changes, Cortessis added.
The co-author of the study Laila Muderspach said, "If we can demonstrate that the body mounts an immune response to having an IUD placed, for example, then we could begin investigating whether an IUD can clear a persistent HPV infection in a clinical trial."