Cervical screening in the 21st century: the case for human papillomavirus testing of self-collected specimens

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2007;45(5):577-91. doi: 10.1515/CCLM.2007.127.


Cervical screening by Pap smear involves a high rate of false negatives, necessitating frequent testing. Because women do not like the sampling procedure, many avoid being screened. Testing for the causative high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types, by PCR or other technologies, on self-collected (tampon) samples permits women to be monitored non-invasively. The high negative predictive value of HPV testing means a greater interval between tests, and thus reduces costs. HPV testing lends itself to primary screening. A kit for self-collection and return to a testing laboratory, followed by practitioner notification and follow-up if required, should result in wider participation. The higher accuracy of HPV testing should lead to improved cervical cancer prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Self-Examination
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*