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Could HPV testing on self-collected samples be routinely used in an organized cervical screening program? A modeled analysis

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Background: Cervical screening on self-collected samples has mainly been considered for targeted use in underscreened women. Updated evidence supports equivalent sensitivity of PCR-based human papillomavirus (HPV) testing on self-collected and clinician-collected samples. Methods: Using a well-established model, we compared the lifetime impact on cancer diagnoses and deaths resulting from cervical screening using self-collected samples only, with and without the existing restriction in Australia to women aged 30þ years and ≥2 years overdue, compared with the mainstream program of 5-yearly HPV screening on clinician-collected samples starting at 25 years of age. We conservatively assumed sensitivity of HPV testing on self-collected relative to clinician-collected samples was 0.98. Outcomes were estimated either in the context of HPV vaccination (“routinely vaccinated cohorts;” uptake as in Australia) or in the absence of HPV vaccination (“unvaccinated cohorts”). Results: In unvaccinated cohorts, the health benefits of increased participation from self-collection outweighed the worst case (2%) loss of relative test sensitivity even if only 15% of women, who would not otherwise attend, used it (“additional uptake”). In routinely vaccinated cohorts, population-wide self-collection could be marginally (0.2%-1.0%) less effective at 15% additional uptake but 6.2% to 12.4% more effective at 50% additional uptake. Most (56.6%-65.0%) of the loss in effectiveness in the restricted self-collection pathway in Australia results from the requirement to be 2 or more years overdue. Conclusions: Even under pessimistic assumptions, any potential loss in test sensitivity from self-collection is likely outweighed by improved program effectiveness resulting from feasible levels of increased uptake. Impact: Consideration could be given to offering self-collection more widely, potentially as an equal choice for women.




Smith, M. A., Hall, M. T., Saville, M., Brotherton, J. M. L., Simms, K. T., Lew, J. B., … Canfell, K. (2021). Could HPV testing on self-collected samples be routinely used in an organized cervical screening program? A modeled analysis. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, 30(2), 268–277.

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