Objective: A commercial test for human papillomavirus detection (hybrid capture assay) was examined for its potential value to augment the sensitivity of cytologic study or cervicography for screening for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2/3.
Study design: In a cohort of 967 women with a mean age of 37.1 years who underwent routine cytologic screening, cytologic examination, cervicography, and testing for high-risk human papillomavirus by the hybrid capture assay were compared for their ability to detect cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2/3. Cervical punch biopsy specimens were taken in 20.5% (198/967) patients because they had an atypical or positive cervigram or abnormal cytologic results in the primary screening smears. The data were analyzed by two-tailed chi(2) and Fisher's exact test.
Results: Thirty-eight patients were diagnosed with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2/3 (prevalence 3.9%) by histologic study. Cytologic study identified 29%, cervicography 45%, and testing for high-risk human papillomavirus 50% of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2/3. When combined, detection of high-risk human papillomavirus or cervicography augmented sensitivity of cytologic study to 58% (p = 0.01) with positive predictive values of 23% and 17%, respectively. Results of the different techniques should be interpreted in relationship to each other and not as absolute values because collection of specimens for cytologic study was done with cotton swabs, which may be suboptimal for screening but is general practice in Germany.
Conclusions: Screening for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2/3 can significantly be improved by human papillomavirus testing with the hybrid capture assay.