Potential effects of age-based changes in screening guidelines on the identification of women at risk for developing cervical cancer

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2022 Dec 6;CAPR-22-0426. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-22-0426. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Current American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines estimated that screening starting at the age of 25 years with Pap and/or human papillomavirus (HPV) testing is sufficient to prevent cervical cancer (CC). The effect of having HPV infections without Pap-based care until age 25 on the prevalence of higher grades of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (≥ CIN 2) and their determinants are largely unknown. The objectives of the study were to document the potential effects of age-based changes in screening guidelines on the identification of ≥ CIN 2 and their determinants. The study included 1584 women diagnosed with abnormal Pap and tested for HPVs and histological diagnoses of cervical lesions. The association between demographic/lifestyle factors and HPV status and risk of being diagnosed with ≥ CIN 2 among younger (21-<25 years) or older (≥ 25 year) women was tested using unconditional multiple logistic regression models. We observed that younger women who are not screened have a similar or higher risk of developing specific high risk (HR)-HPV genotype-associated ≥ CIN 2 lesions compared to older women who are screened according to the current guidelines. In addition, younger women who reported live births, smoking, contraceptive use and a higher number of sexual partners were significantly at higher risk of being diagnosed with ≥ CIN 2. Targeted screening of younger women at risk for developing ≥ CIN 2 will address the concern of overtreatment while providing the recommended care to those who require such care to prevent the development of CC.