Cervical Cancer Screening in the United States-Affiliated Pacific Islands: Options and Opportunities

J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2016 Jan;20(1):97-104. doi: 10.1097/LGT.0000000000000161.


Objective: Successful cervical cancer screening in the United States-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) is limited by geographic, political, economic, and logistic factors. An expert panel convened to examine screening in each of the 6 island jurisdictions and to explore options beyond cytology-based screening.

Materials and methods: Forty-one representatives of American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, government agencies, the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, health representatives of the 6 Pacific island jurisdictions, Puerto Rico, and several academic institutions met in a 2-day meeting to explore options to improve access and coverage of cervical cancer screening in the USAPI.

Results: Cytology-based screening is less widely accessed and less successful in the USAPI than in the United States in general. Barriers include geographic isolation, cultural factors, and lack of resources. Cytology-based screening requires multiple visits to complete the process from screening to treatment. Screen-and-treat regimens based on visual inspection with acetic acid or human papillomavirus requiring 1 or 2 visits have the potential to improve cervical cancer prevention in the USAPI.

Conclusions: The standard US algorithm of cytology screening followed by colposcopy and treatment is less effective in geographically and culturally isolated regions such as the USAPI. Alternate technologies, both high tech, such as primary human papillomavirus screening, and low tech, such as visual inspection with acetic acid, have shown promise in resource-poor countries and may have applicability in these US jurisdictions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Services Administration*
  • Humans
  • Polynesia
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*