Gyllensten U, Sanner K, Gustavsson I, Lindell M, Wikström I, Wilander E
Br. J. Cancer 105 (5) 694-697 [2011-08-23; online 2011-08-02]
Testing for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) in primary screening for cervical cancer is considered more sensitive, but less specific, in comparison with Pap-smear cytology. Women with persistent HPV infections have a higher risk of developing cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2+ (CIN2+) lesions. This study was performed to evaluate the gain in specificity for detection of histologically confirmed CIN2+ lesions achieved by short-time repeat testing for high-risk HPV in women aged 30-65 years, with the primary sample for HPV analysis taken by self-sampling. A total of 8000 women in Uppsala County, aged 30-65 years, who had not attended organised screening for 6 years or longer, were offered self-sampling of vaginal fluid at home and the samples sent for HPV typing. Of these, 8% (669) were not possible to contact or had performed hysterectomy. Women positive for high-risk HPV in the self-sampling test were invited for a follow-up HPV test and a cervical biopsy on average 3 months after the initial HPV test. In all, 39% (2850/7331) of invited women chose to perform self-sampling of vaginal fluid at home. High-risk HPV infection was found in 6.6% (188) of the women. In all, 89% of the women testing HPV positive performed a follow-up examination, on average 2.7 months, after the first test and 59% of these women were HPV positive in the follow-up test. The prevalence of CIN2+ lesions in women with an initial HPV-positive test was 23% (95% CI 18-30%) and in women with two consecutive HPV-positive tests was 41% (95% CI 31-51%). In women with two positive HPV tests, the prevalence of CIN2+ lesions varied from 49% in women at age 30-39 years to 24% in women at age 50-65 years. Short-time repeat HPV testing increased the specificity for detection of CIN2+ lesions from about 94.2% to 97.8%. The most prevalent HPV types were HPV16 (32%), followed by HPV18/45 (19%) and HPV 33/52/58 (19%). The short-time persistence of high-risk HPV infection in this age group was about 60%. Repeat testing for high-risk HPV using self-sampling of vaginal fluid can be used to increase the specificity in the screening for cervical cancer in women aged 30-65 years.