AbstractsMedical & Health Science

Improving attendance to cervical cancer screening: Effects of HPV-testing on self-taken samples in the Finnish cervical cancer screening programme

by Anni Virtanen

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Mass Screening Registry, Finnish Cancer Registry
Year: 2015
Keywords: lääketiede
Record ID: 1139309
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/153917


High coverage amongst those at risk and a high attendance rate are essential in achieving a good impact in a cervical cancer screening programme. In Finland, attendance in the programme is approximately 70% with a slight decreasing trend. There is wide variation in the current invitation practice between municipalities. The introduction of human papillomavirus (HPV) testing in cervical cancer screening has brought about a new possible means of improving attendance rates, as HPV-testing can be performed on self-collected samples. This offers the opportunity to supply sampling devices directly to the homes of the women (self-sampling). The aim of this study was to investigate the effects and feasibility of using self-taken samples for HPV-testing to conduct cervical cancer screening of non-attendees to the Finnish cervical screening programme. The effect on attendance to the screening programme, on overall screening test coverage (including also testing outside the screening programme), on the yield of precancerous lesions detected by screening and on the costs of a screening programme were assessed, as were women s views on this new screening modality. The effects of self-sampling were first studied as a first reminder (i.e. among non-attendees after the primary invitation) in a randomized setting in comparison to a reminder letter, and then in a non-randomized setting as a second reminder after two invitation letters. As a first reminder to non-attendees after the primary invitation, a self-sampling test resulted in somewhat higher attendance than a reminder letter. The difference was small, and in terms of resulting costs (price per extra screened woman and price per detected CIN2+ lesion), a reminder letter with a pre-assigned appointment time is a more feasible choice than a self-sampling test. However, self-sampling can be used to increase screening attendance as a second reminder after two invitation letters. Overall attendance rates increased by 4-8%, and the combined effect of reminder letters and self-sampling showed a 12-23% increase. The yield of detected CIN2+ lesions increased by 25-33% with two reminders. As opportunistic screening is very common in Finland, the increase in overall test coverage remained smaller than the increase in the uptake to the programme. Based on a questionnaire study conducted alongside self-sampling, self-sampling at home helps to overcome both practical and emotional barriers to traditional screening. Women who took part in screening by self-sampling reported mainly positive experiences, but negative experiences were more common among women with a mother tongue other than Finnish or Swedish. The invitation protocol preceding the self-sampling option must be carefully arranged to achieve optimal attendance. A total attendance of well over 80% is achievable in the national programme if personal invitations and reminder letters to non-attendees are sent, scheduled appointments are used in both letters and self-sampling tests are sent to those women who still do not…