Objective: Oncogenic human papillomaviruses (HPV) cause cervical cancer (CC). Screening prevents CC by detecting and removing cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) lesions that are detected through abnormal Pap smears. This study assessed the costs of CC screening, management of abnormal Pap smears, and treatment of CIN in France.
Patients and methods: Pap smears received by laboratory Pasteur-Cerba during a 7-month period were examined. Patients with abnormal Pap smears were identified and followed for 6 months after diagnosis. The management of abnormal Pap smears was documented. These data and other published studies were used to estimate the total number of pap smears, distribution of abnormal smears requiring further examinations, and number of CIN diagnosed. Economic analyses were performed to estimate total CC screening costs from the health care payer (HCP) and societal perspective.
Results: An estimated 6,111,787 Pap smears were performed in 2004, including 222,350 abnormal (3.9%) and 63,616 follow-up smears. In total, 58,920 cervical biopsies and 52,525 HPV tests were performed after an abnormal Pap smear. The cost associated with CC screening, including management of abnormal findings, was estimated at 174.2 million euro from the HCP perspective. Total treatment cost for all CIN was estimated at 22.3 million euro (HCP perspective).
Discussion and conclusion: Overall cost for screening, diagnosis and management of Pap smears was estimated at 335.7 million euro of which 196.5 million euro where funded by the HCP. An HPV vaccine that prevents pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions of the cervix will decrease the socio-economic burden associated with the screening of these lesions.