Improving cervical cytology screening in a remote, high risk population

Med J Aust. 1999 Mar 15;170(6):255-8. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1999.tb127744.x.


Objective: To evaluate the use of the ThinPrep method to reduce rates of unsatisfactory Papanicolaou (Pap) smears in women in remote communities.

Design: Prospectively collected samples were split and screened conventionally and by ThinPrep at the Queensland Cytology Service.

Patients: Three hundred women having cervical smears taken by a Mobile Women's Health Service nurse or at the antenatal and sexual health clinics of a remote north Queensland community.

Main outcome measure: Number of Pap smears reported as unsatisfactory for evaluation and requiring a repeat smear request.

Results: 17.3% of conventionally prepared smears were technically unsatisfactory, compared with 6.3% prepared with ThinPrep. The overall rate of unsatisfactory smears was only 4.3% when both ThinPrep and conventional smears were assessed for a combined report.

Conclusion: A significant reduction in the proportion of unsatisfactory Pap smears is possible with the ThinPrep method. Targeted use of ThinPrep in communities with high rates of unsatisfactory smears may prove cost-effective.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Queensland
  • Rural Health*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Vaginal Smears / methods
  • Vaginal Smears / standards*
  • Women's Health Services*