Five-year routine cervical cancer screening rates and intervals in a US health plan

Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Sep;24(9):2429-35. doi: 10.1185/03007990802281671. Epub 2008 Jul 24.


Objective: Cervical cancer screening with liquid-based cytology or concurrent HPV screening may decrease positive predictive value and specificity of screening results. Following changes to leading guidelines for cervical cancer screening, policy-makers may benefit from more detailed statistics to improve management of routine screening intervals. This paper reports annual cervical cancer screening rates, intervals between routine screenings, population cost burden of routine screening, and concurrent HPV screening rates in the medical claims database of a large US health plan between 2000 and 2004.

Research design and methods: Annual cervical cancer screening rates were reported for each calendar year between 2000 and 2004, plus intervals between routine screenings in a cohort enrolled for 5 years after a first routine screening. Interval estimates accounted for women not screened in the first year of the study period. Overall screening rates and intervals were adjusted to the US civilian female population, and costs were adjusted to 2004 dollars. This database research was exempt from IRB review.

Results: Annual routine screening rates during the 5-year period ranged from 33.7 to 37.2 tests per 100 enrollees. Among females with routine screenings, 68.8% were re-screened within 3 years, and 26.8% were not re-screened within 5 years. Concurrent HPV screening was 1.9 tests per 1000 routine screenings in 2000, and 27.9 per 1000 in 2004. The cost of routine screening per 1000 females was $31,282.00 in 2000 and $38,515.07 in 2004.

Conclusion: More than a quarter of women with evidence of a routine cervical cancer screening were not re-screened within 5 years, while 43.4% were re-screened within a year. Triennial screening rates reported here are not comparable to traditional 3-year screening rates, and screening intervals were not reported separately by conventional and liquid-based cytology. Reducing rates of women receiving annual routine screening may offset the cost burden of newer screening technologies, but must be managed carefully to avoid decreasing 3-year screening rates. Clinicians should reinforce with their patients the need for routine screening at least triennially.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alphapapillomavirus / isolation & purification
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance Carriers*
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • United States
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / economics
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology