The significance of high-risk human papillomavirus detection in women aged ≥ 50 years with atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance cytologic preparations


  • This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.



The use of high-risk human papillomavirus (HRHPV) testing in the triage of women with a cytologic diagnosis of atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASC-US) has gained widespread acceptance. To date, very little has been reported on the significance of the detection of HRHPV in elderly women.


Results of HRHPV testing performed on women aged ≥50 years were examined for a 20-month period. Reflex testing for HRHPV was performed on residual liquid-based cytology specimens from women who were diagnosed with ASC-US by using the Digene Hybrid Capture method. Follow-up information on women who had HRHPV detected was obtained from subsequent pathology reports (cytology and surgical).


HRHPV testing was performed on 762 specimens from women aged ≥50 years; virus was detected in 105 specimens (13.8%), and follow-up was available in 63 of those women (60%). Follow-up results included negative tests in 32 women (50.8% of those with follow-up available), low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion in 26 women (41.3%), and high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL) in 5 women (7.9%). No glandular neoplasia or invasive carcinoma was identified. Relative light units/cutoff (RLU/CO) values ranged from 1 RLU/CO to 1705 RLU/CO; no significant associations were identified between RLU/CO values and follow-up results.


Although HRHPV was detected in a minority of samples, HSIL was present in 7.9% of those with HRHPV. This confirms that the presence of HRHPV in women aged ≥50 years with ASC-US specimens needs clinical follow-up. There were no significant differences in RLU/CO values between women with positive versus negative follow-up to allow for further discrimination for follow-up. Cancer (Cancer Cytopathol) 2007. Published 2007 by the American Cancer Society.