High-risk human papillomaviruses (HR-HPV) are the necessary cause of cervical carcinomas. To determine whether HPR-HPV DNA detection in primary routine screening could represent a sensitive and reliable technique for the detection of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HGSIL), laboratory analysis using 2 cytologic techniques (conventional and liquid-based), HPV testing with Hybrid Capture II assay (HC-II), followed by colposcopic examination of women with abnormal cervical finding and/or persistent HR-HPV infection, was conducted in 7932 women who had routine cervical examination. The sensitivity of HPV testing for detecting a histologically proven HGSIL was 100%, higher than that of conventional (68.1%) and liquid-based (87.8%) cytology. The low specificities of 85.6% and 87.3% of HPV testing slightly increased to 88.4% and 90.1% if HPV testing was reserved for woman >30 years old. The quantitative approach provided by the HC-II assay for the assessment of the viral load was not reliable for predicting HGSIL in normal smears. HR-HPV testing could be proposed in primary screening in association with cytology. With conventional cytology it significantly improves the detection of HGSIL. With the use of the same cervical scrape for HPV testing and liquid-based cytology, HR-HPV testing would allow to select positive samples treated in a second time for cytology which gives a good specificity.
Copyright 2001 Cancer Research Campaign.