Self-sampling for HPV testing in primary cervical screening Including clinical and health economic aspects
Abstract: Persistent infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is a prerequisite for the development of cervical cancer. HPV testing has higher sensitivity for high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN2+) than cytology, resulting in more effective screening. As HPV testing also offers an opportunity for self-sampling, it could serve as an even more effective and cost-effective method of cervical screening.First, we compared repeated self-sampling for HPV testing with Pap smear cytology in detection of CIN2+ in primary cervical screening for women aged 30–49 years (n=36 390). We found a more than twofold higher detection rate of CIN2+ and a fourfold higher detection rate of CIN2 with self-sampling compared with cytology. However, no difference was seen between the arms in the detection rate of CIN3+. It thus seems that CIN is detected at an earlier stage with self-sampling than with cytology, but the impact of this needs to be further explored.Second, as management of HPV-positive women with normal cytology results is a challenge, we wanted to evaluate the proportion of cases of histological CIN2+ in these women. In this prospective study we performed LEEP and found that 15% (6/40) of the women had undetected CIN2+. These findings can be used in counseling women about the risk of cervical cancer and helping clinicians in decisions on management.Third, we performed a cost-effectiveness analysis on the same study population as in Study I. Self-sampling for HPV testing resulted in a higher participation rate and more detected cases of CIN2+ at a lower cost and was regarded as more cost-effective than Pap smear cytology in cervical screening. These results can guide policy-makers when planning future screening programs.Fourth, we compared self-sampling with sampling by medical professionals for HPV testing in detection of CIN2+, using a combination of an FTA card as storage medium and a PCR-based HPV test (hpVIR) in women aged 30–60 years (n=11 951). No difference in the detection rates of histological CIN2+ was found between the arms.Taken together, self-sampling resulted in a higher participation rate than sampling by medical professionals in cervical screening and that triage with repeated self-sampling resulted in high compliance and detection rate of CIN2+. As repeated self-sampling for HPV testing was also cost-effective, it could serve as an attractive alternative in the development of future cervical screening programs. More research is needed on how to refine the management of HPV-positive women by self-sampling only.
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