Primary screening for high risk HPV by home obtained cervicovaginal lavage is an alternative screening tool for unscreened women

M A E Nobbenhuis, T J M Helmerhorst, A J C van den Brule, L Rozendaal, L H Jaspars, F J Voorhorst, R H M Verheijen, C J L M Meijer
Journal of Clinical Pathology 2002, 55 (6): 435-9

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Self sampling is considered an adjuvant tool to facilitate the participation of women in cervical cancer screening programmes. This study aimed to evaluate whether cervicovaginal lavage could be an alternative for the cervical smear in cytology and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing and to assess the acceptance of the self sampling device by women.

METHODS: Fifty six women with abnormal cervical cytology (very mild dyskaryosis or worse) and 15 women with normal cervical cytology obtained a self collected cervicovaginal lavage at home and filled in a questionnaire on the use of the device. At the colposcopy clinic the gynaecologist performed the same procedure followed by a cervical smear for cytology and HPV DNA testing.

RESULTS: The self sampling device was acceptable to 88% of the women. The concordance between the cytology results in the smear and the lavage by the doctor and the patient was 54% and 41%, respectively (kappa = 0.28 and 0.14). The concordance between high risk HPV detection in the smear and the lavage by the doctor and the patient was 93% and 78%, respectively (kappa = 0.82 and 0.53). Ninety one per cent of the women with high grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) had a high risk HPV positive test in the smear, compared with 91% and 81% in the lavages taken by the doctor and the patient, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: HPV DNA testing by home obtained samples is useful as a screening tool for cervical cancer, whereas cervical cytology by self sampling is not. Although the sensitivity for high grade CIN by high risk HPV testing in the lavage by the patient is not significantly lower than that in the cervical smear, self sampling for HPV DNA is a feasible alternative method in women who decline to participate in population based cervical cancer screening programmes. However, participation in the screening programme remains the best option.

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