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Keywords:

  • human papillomavirus;
  • cervical cancer;
  • screening;
  • mathematical model;
  • cost-effectiveness

Abstract

We studied the health and economic effects of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing in cervical screening using a simulation model. The key data source was a Dutch longitudinal screening trial. We compared cytological testing with repeat cytology (for borderline/mildly abnormal smears) to HPV testing with cytology triage (for HPV-positive smears), combination testing (combined HPV and cytology) and cytological testing with HPV triage (for borderline/mildly abnormal smears). We varied the screening interval from 5 to 10 years. The main outcome measures were the number of cervical cancer cases, the number of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER). The base-case estimates were accompanied with ranges across 118 calibrated parameter settings (calibration criteria: cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2/3, cancer and mortality rates). In comparison to 5-yearly cytology, 5-yearly HPV testing with cytology triage gave a reduction in the number of cancer cases of 23% (range, 9–27%). The reduction was 26% (range, 10–29%) for combination testing and 3% (range, −1 to 8%) for cytology with HPV triage. For strategies with primary HPV testing, the model also estimated a reduction in cancer cases when the screening interval was extended to 7.5 years. Five-yearly cytology with HPV triage and 5 to 7.5-yearly HPV testing with cytology triage were cost effective for the base-case settings and the majority of calibrated parameter settings (ICER below Dutch willingness-to-pay threshold of €20,000/QALY). Our model indicates that HPV testing with cytology triage is likely to be cost effective. An extension of the screening interval may be considered to control costs.