Screening for cervical cancer with high-risk human papillomavirus testing a systematic evidence review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Data to compare potential harms of different screening strategies were similarly limited, and none of the included trials or observational studies reported on harms of the screening test or treatments. False-positive rates and referrals to colposcopy were in some trials 2- to 3-fold higher with hrHP...

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Main Author: Melnikow, Joy
Corporate Authors: Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center (Center for Health Research (Kaiser-Permanente Medical Care Program. Northwest Region)), United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
Format: eBook
Language:English
Published: Rockville, MD Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2018, August 2018
Series:Evidence synthesis
Subjects:
Online Access:
Collection: National Center for Biotechnology Information - Collection details see MPG.ReNa
Summary:Data to compare potential harms of different screening strategies were similarly limited, and none of the included trials or observational studies reported on harms of the screening test or treatments. False-positive rates and referrals to colposcopy were in some trials 2- to 3-fold higher with hrHPV-based screening strategies relative to cytology alone in the first screening round, and evidence was lacking to determine whether these differences might persist over multiple screening rounds. Risks of missed ICC were very low regardless of the screening strategy used. An IPD meta-analysis suggested a lower rate of ICC with hrHPV screening strategies, but this analysis pooled data from trials with distinctly different screening strategies and hrHPV test types, adding uncertainty to interpretation of the findings.
Rates of cervical cancer are very low among routinely screened women in the United States, but not all women are routinely screened, and there are significant racial/ethnic disparities in morbidity and mortality from cervical cancer. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Eight large randomized trials, four of primary hrHPV testing and four of hrHPV cotesting, contributed to the evidence comparing use of hrHPV testing as part of cervical cancer screening with cytology alone for detection of CIN3+. All trials were conducted in the context of organized screening programs, with heterogeneous screening strategies and followup protocols. Interpretation of trial findings was limited by the fact that after one round of screening, only one trial conducted further screening applying the originally assigned strategies in the control and intervention arms. In all other trials, both arms received the same test at Round 2 (either cytology alone or hrHPV cotesting).
Primary hrHPV testing increased detection of CIN3+ in the initial round of screening by as much as 2- to 3-fold. Only the trial of primary hrHPV testing, where all women with a positive hrHPV test were referred to colposcopy, had results from two rounds of screening. In that study, CIN3+ detection in Round 1 was 3-fold higher in the primary hrHPV testing arm, and cumulative detection was 1.8-fold higher after the second round of screening. Evidence was mixed in cotesting trials. No trial showed a significant increase in CIN 3+ detection in Round 1 for cotesting. In two of four trials, CIN3+ detection was lower in Round 2 in the hrHPV cotesting arm and higher in the cytology alone arm. Cumulative CIN3+ detection was similar between intervention and control study arms in all trials. Because no trial sustained the intervention and control group protocols beyond two screening rounds, evidence comparing the long-term outcomes of primary hrHPV testing or cotesting with cytology was lacking.
IMPORTANCE: Cervical cancer can be prevented with early detection and treatment of precancerous lesions that are caused primarily by infection with high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (hrHPV). Current guidelines for screening in the United States focus on cytology screening with the Papanicolaou (Pap) test, with hrHPV cotesting as an option for women ages 30 to 65 years that allows for longer rescreening intervals. Evidence from large trials evaluating screening programs involving primary hrHPV testing (hrHPV alone as the initial test) and cotesting may inform new screening strategies. Evidence supporting cytology screening is well established, so this review evaluated screening with hrHPV testing alone (i.e., primary hrHPV testing) or as cotesting with cytology compared to cytology alone to address whether these forms of screening provide better protection from cervical cancer and allow for longer rescreening intervals.
In most trials and in a large U.S.-based observational study, women younger than age 30 to 35 years had higher rates of hrHPV positivity and CIN3+, accompanied by higher rates of colposcopy. No completed studies compared different screening intervals. All of the RCTs on hrHPV screening were conducted in countries with organized screening programs, which are not available to most women in the United States. Rigorous comparative research is needed in U.S. screening settings to examine longer screening intervals, long-term outcomes, and to identify effective strategies for outreach and screening of poorly screened and unscreened women. The higher sensitivity of hrHPV testing in a single round may have potential to improve outcomes in this high-risk population
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