Test results from self-collected vaginal swab kits sent to women at home can help identify virtually everyone with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) oncogenic types, thus helping bolster cervical cancer screening rates in women overdue for screening, an observational “proof-in-principle” study suggests.
“We found in this sample [that] all of the women who had high-grade lesions had HPV-positive home self-collection results [so] we didn’t miss any of those high-grade cases by conducting home self-collection,” Jennifer Smith, PhD, MPH, senior author, University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill, said in a statement by her institution.
“And this is a demonstration that mailing self-collection kits and returning them to test for high-risk HPV infection has big potential to increase screening access among under-screened women, and to do that successfully,” she added.
The study was published online November 5 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Three Samples Compared
The “My Body, My Test” study found that vaginal samples collected by women themselves at home and returned by mail was a feasible approach and was well-accepted by under-screened women in North Carolina.
For this portion of the study, 193 women who had not undergone Pap (smear) testing in the past 4 years and who were uninsured, underinsured, or who had Medicaid insurance were eligible to participate. The median age of the group was 45 years and median time since a previous Pap test was 5 years.
Women were asked to provide three genital samples: a cervicovaginal sample collected by themselves by brush at home and returned by mail (self-home sample); a cervicovaginal sample again collected by themselves but this time at a clinic and handed to a nurse (self-clinic sample); and a cervical sample collected by a clinician during a pelvic examination (clinician sample).