Author(s): Stoler MH, Austin RM, Zhao C
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Abstract Screening for cervical cancer with cytology testing has been very effective in reducing cervical cancer in the United States. For decades, the approach was an annual Pap test. In 2000, the Hybrid Capture 2 human papillomavirus (HPV) test was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for screening women who have atypical squamous cells of underdetermined significance (ASCUS) detected by Pap test to determine the need for colposcopy. In 2003, the FDA approved expanding the use of the test to include screening performed in conjunction with a Pap test for women over the age of 30 years, referred to as "cotesting." Cotesting allows women to extend the testing interval to 3 years if both tests have negative results. In April of 2014, the FDA approved the use of an HPV test (the cobas HPV test) for primary cervical cancer screening for women over the age of 25 years, without the need for a concomitant Pap test. The approval recommended either colposcopy or a Pap test for patients with specific high-risk HPV types detected by the HPV test. This was based on the results of the ATHENA trial, which included more than 40,000 women. Reaction to this decision has been mixed. Supporters point to the fact that the primary-screening algorithm found more disease (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 3 or worse [CIN3+]) and also found it earlier than did cytology or cotesting. Moreover, the positive predictive value and positive-likelihood ratio of the primary-screening algorithm were higher than those of cytology. Opponents of the decision prefer cotesting, as this approach detects more disease than the HPV test alone. In addition, the performance of this new algorithm has not been assessed in routine clinical use. Professional organizations will need to develop guidelines that incorporate this testing algorithm. In this Point-Counterpoint, Dr. Stoler explains why he favors the primary-screening algorithm, while Drs. Austin and Zhao explain why they prefer the cotesting approach to screening for cervical cancer. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
This article was published in J Clin Microbiol
and referenced in Diagnostic Pathology: Open Access