(HealthDay News) — Primary human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every three years seems to be a better screening alternative to Papanicolaou (Pap) testing every three years or concurrent HPV and Pap testing every five years, according to a study published online July 18 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Julia C. Gage, PhD, MPH, from the National institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues estimated and compared risks of cancer and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 or worse (CIN3+) for primary HPV testing every three years, primary Pap testing every three years, or concurrent Pap and HPV testing every five years (“cotesting”). The three strategies were compared among 1,011,092 women aged 30–64 years who tested HPV-negative and/or Pap-negative in routine screening since 2003.
The researchers found that following an HPV-negative result the three-year risks were significantly lower than the three-year risks following a Pap-negative result (CIN3+: 0.069 vs. 0.19%; P<0.0001; cancer: 0.011 vs. 0.020%; P<0.0001). In addition, the three-year risks following an HPV-negative result were lower than the five-year risks following an HPV-negative/Pap negative cotest (CIN3+: 0.069 vs. 0.11%; P<0.0001); cancer: 0.011 vs. 0.014%; P=0.21).
“In conclusion, we find that primary HPV testing every three years might provide as much, if not more, reassurance against precancer and cancer, compared to primary Pap testing every three years and cotesting every five years,” the authors write. “Health decision analyses are now imperative to identify the optimal screening interval and preferred screening strategy.”
Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including companies that provide HPV testing at no cost.