Scientific article
Open access

Cervical cancer screening in a low-resource setting: a pilot study on an HPV-based screen-and-treat approach

Published inCancer Medicine, vol. 6, no. 7, p. 1752-1761
Publication date2017

Cervical cancer (CC) is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily because of limited access to effective screening and preventive treatment. Our aim was to assess the feasibility of a human papillomavirus (HPV)-based CC screen-and-treat approach in a low-resource context. We recruited 1012 women aged 30-49 years through a CC screening campaign conducted in the District Hospital of Dschang, Cameroon. Participants performed HPV self-sampling, which was tested for high-risk HPV (HR-HPV) DNA using the point-of-care Xpert HPV assay. All HPV-positive women were invited for visual inspection with acetic acid and Lugol's iodine (VIA/VILI) to exclude CC or enable triage. A cervical sample for histological analysis was also collected. Women positive for HPV 16/18/45 and for other HR-HPV with pathological VIA/VILI were selected to undergo treatment with thermocoagulation. The HPV prevalence in the study population was 18.5% (n = 187); of these cases, 20 (10.6%), 42 (22.3%) and 140 (74.9%) were positive for HPV16, HPV18/45 and other HR-HPV types, respectively. Overall, 107/185 (57.8%) VIA/VILI examinations were classified as pathological and 78 (42.2%) as normal. Women positive for HPV16/18/45 were 4.2 times more likely to harbor cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2 or worse (CIN2+) than those with other HPV types. The specificity of HPV 16/18/45 genotypes for detection of high-grade lesions among HR-HPV positive women was higher than that of VIA/VILI in all age groups. The sensitivity and specificity of VIA/VILI in detecting CIN2+ among HPV positive women were 80% and 44%, respectively. Overall, 110/121 screen-positive women (90.9%) were eligible for, and were treated with, thermocoagulation. An HPV-based screen-and-treat approach is feasible in a low-resource context and may contribute to improving the effectiveness of CC prevention programs. Immediate thermocoagulation treatment for women who are HPV16- and/or HPV18/45-positive is a practical approach for the treatment of CIN2+. The combination of HPV-testing and VIA/VILI for CC screening might reduce overtreatment.

Citation (ISO format)
KUNCKLER, Margot et al. Cervical cancer screening in a low-resource setting: a pilot study on an HPV-based screen-and-treat approach. In: Cancer Medicine, 2017, vol. 6, n° 7, p. 1752–1761. doi: 10.1002/cam4.1089
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2045-7634

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