Evaluation of alternative methods of cervical cancer screening for resource-poor settings

Cancer. 2000 Aug 15;89(4):826-33. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20000815)89:4<826::aid-cncr15>3.0.co;2-5.


Background: Noncytologic methods of screening for cervical carcinoma and its precursor lesions are needed for resource-poor settings in which cervical carcinoma continues to be an important cause of morbidity and mortality.

Methods: Two thousand nine hundred forty-four women ages 35-65 years were recruited from Cape Town, South Africa and screened using a combination of a Papanicolaou (Pap) smear, human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing, direct visual inspection after the application of a 5% acetic acid solution (DVI), and cervicography. Cervicography was considered primarily as a method with which to quality control the DVI examinations. Women with squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL) or carcinoma on Pap smear, positive DVI examination (acetowhite lesion or cervical ulcer/growth), high levels of high risk HPV DNA (relative light units [RLU] > 10x positive control), or positive Cervigramtrade mark were referred for colposcopy and cervical biopsy.

Results: Pap smears were positive in 8.1% of all women screened and identified 65 (78%) of all cases of biopsy confirmed high grade disease (high grade SIL or invasive carcinoma). DVI and cervicography were classified as positive in 18.1% and 10.5%, respectively, of women screened and identified 58 (67%) and 46 (58%) of all cases of high grade disease, respectively. The results of HPV DNA testing varied depending on the cutoff value used to define a positive result. At the standard cutoff level (RLU > 1x positive control), 16.2% of women screened were classified as high risk HPV DNA positive, as were 63 women with high grade disease (73%).

Conclusions: DVI and HPV DNA testing identified similar numbers of high grade SIL (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia Grade 2,3) and invasive carcinoma cases as Pap smears. However, both classify considerably more women without cervical disease as being test positive.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colposcopy
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Demography
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / prevention & control
  • Papanicolaou Test
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification
  • Prevalence
  • Uterine Cervical Diseases / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / etiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vaginal Smears


  • DNA, Viral