Objectives: The Bethesda 2001 Workshop was convened to evaluate and update the 1991 Bethesda System terminology for reporting the results of cervical cytology. A primary objective was to develop a new approach to broaden participation in the consensus process.
Participants: Forum groups composed of 6 to 10 individuals were responsible for developing recommendations for discussion at the workshop. Each forum group included at least 1 cytopathologist, cytotechnologist, clinician, and international representative to ensure a broad range of views and interests. More than 400 cytopathologists, cytotechnologists, histopathologists, family practitioners, gynecologists, public health physicians, epidemiologists, patient advocates, and attorneys participated in the workshop, which was convened by the National Cancer Institute and cosponsored by 44 professional societies. More than 20 countries were represented.
Evidence: Literature review, expert opinion, and input from an Internet bulletin board were all considered in developing recommendations. The strength of evidence of the scientific data was considered of paramount importance.
Consensus process: Bethesda 2001 was a year-long iterative review process. An Internet bulletin board was used for discussion of issues and drafts of recommendations. More than 1000 comments were posted to the bulletin board over the course of 6 months. The Bethesda Workshop, held April 30-May 2, 2001, was open to the public. Postworkshop recommendations were posted on the bulletin board for a last round of critical review prior to finalizing the terminology.
Conclusions: Bethesda 2001 was developed with broad participation in the consensus process. The 2001 Bethesda System terminology reflects important advances in biological understanding of cervical neoplasia and cervical screening technology.