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Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Nov;114(5):1049-56. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181b8fc88.

Repeat pap testing and colposcopic biopsies in the underserved.

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  • 1National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.



To quantify repeat Pap testing and colposcopic biopsies among women in the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program between 2003 and 2006 (N=955,494).


Rates of repeat Pap testing (two tests within 9 months) and colposcopic biopsies were estimated along with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Odds ratios and 95% CIs for receipt of colposcopic biopsy compared with repeat Pap testing were estimated from multivariable logistic regression models. Finally, we estimated positive predictive values and 95% CIs of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2 or worse (CIN 3, carcinoma in situ, invasive cancer) for two strategies: 1) repeat Pap testing followed by colposcopic biopsy and 2) colposcopic biopsy alone.


There were 39,583 and 53,880 women with repeat Pap testing and colposcopic biopsy, respectively, from 2003 to 2006. Overall, age-standardized rates of repeat Pap testing and colposcopic biopsies were 37.2 per 1,000 women and 39.3 per 1,000 women, respectively. Younger women, Hispanic women, and African-American women were more likely to receive colposcopic biopsies compared with repeat Pap tests. Positive predictive values of colposcopic biopsy were highest after abnormal Pap test results (27% after a result of atypical squamous cells, cannot exclude high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, 70% after a result of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion/squamous cell cancer).


Colposcopic biopsies are common among young women after being screened for cervical cancer and, except among those with the most severe Pap test results, may not be efficient in detecting serious disease. These results conflict with current recommendations for less aggressive follow-up for most young women.



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