OBJECTIVE: To compare the real-life screening outcomes after cytology was replaced by human papillomavirus (HPV) testing for women aged 60-64 years.
METHODS: Using the Danish national pathology register, we compared screening outcomes during two consecutive calendar periods, one where women were screened with cytology and one where most women were screened with HPV testing. Our primary outcomes were the proportions of women with positive test results, high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN 2 or worse), and cervical cancer.
RESULTS: Women screened during the HPV testing period were more likely to have a positive screening test result than were women screened during the cytology period (relative proportion 2.80, 95% CI 2.65-2.96). The detection of CIN 2 or worse was also increased (relative proportion 1.54, 95% CI 1.31-1.80), whereas there was no increase in screen-detected cervical cancer diagnoses (relative proportion 1.27, 95% CI 0.76-2.12). Within the first 4 years after a negative screening test result, including 168,477 woman-years at risk after a negative screen result in the HPV period and 451,421 woman-years after a negative screen result in the cytology period, the risk of a cervical cancer diagnosis was approximately 4 per 100,000 woman-years and was similar for both screening tests (relative risk 0.99, 95% CI 0.41-2.35).
CONCLUSION: Human papillomavirus testing led to more positive screening test results and diagnoses of high-grade CIN lesions. Few women were diagnosed with cervical cancer after a negative screening test result.