Signaling a potential major change in cervical cancer screening options for American women, a new study found that mailed self-sampling kits that test for human papillomavirus (HPV) — the virus that can cause cervical cancer — helped significantly more women get screened for the cancer.
The study involving nearly 20,000 women was conducted by researchers from the University of Washington School of Public Health and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) and was published Nov. 6 in JAMA Network Open. Lead author Dr. Rachel Winer is a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health and a KPWHRI affiliate investigator.
In the study, women within the Kaiser Permanente Washington system who hadn’t been screened for cervical cancer in more than three years were randomized into two groups: Roughly half were mailed an HPV self-sampling kit that they could complete as an alternative to Pap screening, and the other half received only the standard care reminders to be screened in a clinical setting.
Within the cohort of underscreened women in the self-testing arm of the study, 26 percent were screened for cervical cancer versus 17 percent of underscreened women who received the standard reminders. Of those underscreened women who returned the kits, 88 percent tested negative for the virus, signaling low risk for cervical cancer.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on November 15