Comparison of human papillomavirus DNA testing and repeat Papanicolaou test in women with low-grade cervical cytologic abnormalities: a randomized trial. HPV Effectiveness in Lowgrade Paps (HELP) Study No. 1 Group.
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BACKGROUND: Results of cervical cytology screening showing atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) or low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL) indicate risk for high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN 2 or 3). In a community-based randomized trial we compared the test performance of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing with that of 6-month repeat Papanicolaou (Pap) test in detecting histologically confirmed CIN 2 or 3. METHODS: We randomly assigned 212 women aged 16-50 years with ASCUS or LSIL on cervical cytology screening to undergo either immediate HPV DNA testing or a repeat Pap test in 6 months. Cervical swabs for the HPV DNA testing and the Pap smears were obtained by their family physicians. We tested the swabs for oncogenic HPV using the Hybrid Capture II assay (Digene Corp., Beltsville, Md.). Community-based pathologists examined the Pap smears. All women were referred for colposcopy by their family physicians. Two gynecological pathologists assessed the histology findings. We calculated test performance in women who completed the trial using CIN 2 or 3 as the reference standard. RESULTS: A total of 159 women completed the study. Compared with HPV DNA testing, which detected 87.5% (7/8) of the cases of CIN 2 or 3, repeat Pap smear showing high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HSIL) detected 11.1% (1/9) of cases (p = 0.004), and repeat Pap smear showing ASCUS, LSIL or HSIL detected 55.6% (5/9) (p = 0.16). Corresponding specificities were 50.6%, 95.2% (p = 0.002) and 55.6% (p = 0.61). Loss to follow-up was 17.1% in the HPV test group and 32.7% in the repeat Pap group (p = 0.009). Given the 7 cases of CIN 2 or 3 detected by HPV testing and the 5 cases detected by the repeat Pap smear, the incremental cost of HPV testing was calculated to be $3003 per additional case of CIN identified. INTERPRETATION: HPV DNA testing was more costly but was associated with significantly less loss to follow-up. It may detect more cases of CIN 2 or 3 in women with low-grade cytologic abnormalities.
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