Vaginal self-sampling is a cost-effective way to increase participation in a cervical cancer screening programme: a randomised trial

Br J Cancer. 2014 Nov 25;111(11):2187-96. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.510. Epub 2014 Sep 23.


Background: Cervical cancer screening coverage remains insufficient in most countries. Our objective was to assess whether in-home vaginal self-sampling with a dry swab for high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) testing is effective and cost-effective in increasing participation in cervical cancer screening.

Methods: In March 2012, 6000 unscreened women aged 30-65 years, living in a French region covered by a screening programme, who had not responded to an initial invitation to have a Pap smear were equally randomised to three groups: 'no intervention'; 'recall', women received a letter to have a Pap smear; and 'self-sampling', women received a self-sampling kit to return to a centralised virology laboratory for PCR-based HPV testing.

Results: Participation was higher in the 'self-sampling' than in the 'no intervention' group (22.5% vs 9.9%, P<0.0001; OR 2.64) and 'recall' group (11.7%, P<0.0001; OR 2.20). In the 'self-sampling' group, 320 used the self-sampling kit; for 44 of these women with positive HR-HPV test results, 40 had the recommended triage Pap smear. The ICER per extra screened woman was 77.8[euro ] and 63.2[euro ] for the 'recall' and 'self-sampling' groups, respectively, relative to the 'no intervention' group.

Conclusions: Offering an in-home, return-mail kit for vaginal self-sampling with a dry swab is more effective and cost-effective than a recall letter in increasing participation in cervical cancer screening.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms
  • Vaginal Smears / economics
  • Vaginal Smears / methods*


  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic