Self-sample HPV tests as an intervention for nonattendees of cervical cancer screening in Finland: a randomized trial

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Sep;20(9):1960-9. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-11-0307. Epub 2011 Jul 13.


Background: Attendance in screening is an important determinant of cervical cancer. Previous experience on high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) DNA testing on patient-obtained samples suggests a good effect among nonattendees of screening. We assessed the effects of self-sampling on attendance in the Finnish screening program.

Methods: Nonattendees after the primary invitation in one municipality (Espoo) were randomized to receive either a self-sampling kit (2,397 women) or an extra invitation (6,302 women). One fourth (1,315 women) of reminder letter arm nonattendees also received a self-sampling kit as a third intervention. Main outcomes were increases in screening attendance and coverage.

Results: The adjusted relative risk for participation by self-sampling as a second intervention in comparison to a reminder letter arm was 1.21 (95% CI: 1.13-1.30). Total attendance increased from 65% to 76% by self-sampling and from 65% to 74% with a reminder letter. Combining the interventions (reminder letter and then self-sampling) increased total attendance from 63% to 78%. One fifth of the participants in all three groups increased screening coverage (previous Pap smear ≥5 years ago or never). Self-obtained samples were more often HPV positive than provider-obtained ones (participants after primary invitation and reminder letter), 12% to 13% versus 7%.

Conclusions: Self-sampling is a feasible option in enhancing the attendance at organized screening, particularly as an addition to a reminder letter.

Impact: If self-sampling is used as a third intervention after two written invitations, the overall attendance in Finland could most likely reach the desired 80% to 85%.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Papanicolaou Test
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Self-Examination / methods*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology*
  • Vaginal Smears

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN25346540