Chemoprevention of Cervical Cancer with Folic Acid: A Phase III Southwest Oncology Group Intergroup Study

Joel M. Childers, Joseph Chu, Lynda F. Voigt, Polly Feigl, Hisham K. Tamimi, Ernest W. Franklin, David S. Alberts, Frank L. Meyskens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Several epidemiological reports and experimental investigations have suggested a preventive role for folic acid in the etiology of cervical cancer. The effect of p.o. folic acid supplementation on the natural history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) was evaluated in a multiinstitutional prospective, randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled trial. Three hundred thirty-one women with biopsy-proven koilocytic atypia, mild CIN, or moderate CIN were randomized to receive oral folic acid (5 μg) or a similar-appearing placebo daily for 6 months following a 1-month run-in placebo period. Colposcopy, Papanicolaou smear, and serum vitamin levels (folate, retinol, α-tocopherol, β-carotene, and retinyl palmitate) were monitored every 3 months. Demographic, medical, dietary, and sexual history data were obtained from personal interviews. The primary end point of the study was improvement in both Papanicolaou smear and colposcopic picture after 3 and 6 months of treatment as compared to the start of treatment. After 6 months of treatment there was no significant difference between the two study groups in the percentage of patients improved. Median serum folate levels in the treatment arm at 3 and 6 months (29.0 and 20.0 μg/dl) were significantly higher than those in the placebo arm (7.8 and 7.1 μg/dl, respectively). Mean serum levels of retinol, retinyl palmitate, α-tocopherol, and β-carotene did not differ significantly between the two treatment arms. Our data support the conclusion that supplementation with folic acid (5 μg/day) does not enhance the regression of early epithelial abnormalities of the cervix. Whether the correction of folate deficiency prior to the initiation of the CIN process would have any influence on the outcome is not answered in the current study and will require a different study design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-159
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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