Cervical cancer in women with MS

Associate Professor Anneke van der Walt

Monash University

| Causes and Prevention | Epidemiology | Project | 2022 | Investigator Led Research |


Relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) can be treated with numerous disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that can slow both relapse rates and disease progression. All of these treatments work by modulating the immune system, but in different ways. Treatment in MS is often started at a young age and continued for decades or even life-long. This long-term action on the immune response may predispose individuals to a higher risk of infections.  

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the world and, in the event of persistent infection to the cervix, can result in the development of abnormal cells and cervical cancer. This process can take decades to develop.  

This study aims to determine if exposure to DMTs in women with MS increases the risk of HPV infection, cervical cell abnormalities, and cervical cancer. The team will achieve this by linking MS disease information from the MSBase Registry with the National Cervical Cancer Registry and the Australian Immunization Registry. The results have the potential to change the way that women with MS are screened for cervical cancers and to provide evidence that HPV-vaccination should be provided to all women with MS.  

Progress to Date

The clinical trial at the Royal Melbourne Hospital has made progress in its approval process. The final protocol was approved by the hospital's Human Research Ethics Committee in October 2022. Monash University is currently in the process of finalising the contracts. Participant recruitment did not take place in 2022 due to the delays in the ethics and governance processes. However, the recruitment phase is scheduled to begin in 2023. The team are working diligently to overcome the challenges and move forward with the trial to benefit the participants involved. 

Updated: 31 March 2023

Updated: 14 February, 2022

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years


  • Associate Professor Anneke van der walt


  • Dr Vilija Jokubaitis
  • A/Prof Julia Brotherton
  • Prof Jeannette Lechner-Scott

Grant Awarded

  • Project Grant

Total Funding

  • $249,000


  • 3 years

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Cervical cancer in women with MS