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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name



Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

First Advisor

Robert A. Akins


Cervical cancer has been found to be caused by infection with Human Papillomavirus; however, not all women who become infected will develop cancer. While the development of an HPV vaccine has reduced cases, the mortality rate is still over thirty percent. It was investigated whether any common viral or bacterial vaginal pathogens had any effect on risk of developing cervical cancer. Initial results have shown that presence of Mycoplasma species may serve as a biomarker for HPV infection, and that increased Lactobacillus iners within the cervical microbiome may be indicative of a transitional state between healthy and HPV infected, and potentially between HPV infected and precancerous. Trichomonas vaginalis has also been implicated as a potential biomarker for low grade cervical cellular abnormality (ASCUS). Treatment of these infections could be used as a preventative action against development of carcinoma. In addition, routine screenings of HPV infected women for these pathogens may provide earlier warning signs for presence of cancer cells, and function as a tool for risk assessment.

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