High reproducibility of histological diagnosis of human papillomavirus-related intraepithelial lesions of the anal canal

Pathology. 2015 Jun;47(4):308-13. doi: 10.1097/PAT.0000000000000246.


In a natural history study of anal human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and HPV-related lesions, we examined the reproducibility of histological high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL). Three expert anogenital pathologists share the reporting of histological specimens from the Study of the Prevention of Anal Cancer (SPANC), utilising Lower Anogenital Squamous Terminology (LAST) criteria. In total, 194 previously reported biopsies were randomly chosen within diagnostic strata [50 HSIL-anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN) 3; 45 HSIL-AIN 2; 49 'flat' low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LSIL); 50 'exophytic' LSIL; and 50 negative for squamous intraepithelial lesion] and reviewed by each of these three pathologists. Consensus was defined as agreement between at least two review diagnoses, using a binary classification of HSIL and non-HSIL, or if consensus was not obtained in this way, it was achieved through a multiheader microscope session by the three pathologists. We found very high agreement between original and consensus diagnoses (Kappa = 0.886) and between each pathologist's review and consensus (Kappas = 0.926, 0.917 and 0.905). Intra-observer agreement for the three pathologists was 0.705, 1.000 and 0.854. This high level of diagnostic reproducibility indicates that the findings of SPANC should be robust and provide reliable information about HPV-related anal canal disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anus Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Anus Neoplasms / virology
  • Carcinoma in Situ / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / virology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / virology
  • Humans
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Reproducibility of Results