Demographic variables routinely collected at colposcopic examination do not predict who will default from conservative management of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia I


Correspondence: Associate Professor Julie A. Quinlivan, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Melbourne, Royal Women's Hospital, 132 Grattan St Carlton 3053, Victoria, Australia. Email:


Objective:  As a result of the low incidence of progression from low grade epithelial abnormalities to cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 3 or cervical cancer, a conservative approach to management is supported, especially in young women. Loss to follow-up is a recognised problem with a conservative approach however, with women defaulting known to experience higher rates of cancer.

Aim:  To determine if any routinely collected demographic variables could predict which Australian women would subsequently default from care having initially elected to have conservative management of CIN 1 lesions.

Methods:  Prospectively collected data was audited on 279 women with a colposcopically directed biopsy diagnosis of CIN 1, confirmed on external review, who were enroled by their own choice into a conservative management program and monitored until a definitive lesion outcome was determined. Women who defaulted from follow-up and were lost to care providers despite follow-up appointments and reminder letters were compared to women who completed follow-up with either lesion resolution or progression requiring treatment, to establish if there were any demographic variables to predict default from care.

Results:  Fifty-two (18.5%) women subsequently defaulted from follow-up. There were no significant differences in age, parity, proportion of women who were pregnant at diagnosis, smoking status, immunosuppressed or had a ‘human papillomavirus (HPV) effect’ reported on Pap-smear or colposcopic examination.

Conclusion:  We cannot easily identify a subgroup of women who are more likely to default from follow-up of CIN 1 using routinely collected demographic data. Default from follow-up is a major risk with conservative approaches and further research to reduce default rates are required.