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Vesco KK, Whitlock EP, Eder M, et al. Screening for Cervical Cancer: A Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2011 May. (Evidence Syntheses, No. 86.)

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Screening for Cervical Cancer: A Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force [Internet].

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Appendix ATerminology and Abbreviations


Cancer that begins in cells that line certain internal organs and that have gland-like (secretory) properties.

Baseline screening

Initial cross-sectional results from a screening episode, with associated histologic results from immediate colposcopy referrals. Does not include complete retesting results (repeat screens after an initial equivocal result) or associated histology. For example, in Phase 1 of the NTCC trial, baseline results included histologic lesions detected up to one year after initial colposcopy referral, but not lesions detected over the full three-year interval between screening rounds.

Cervical cancer223

Cancer that forms in tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina). It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms but can be found with regular Pap tests.


The lower, narrow end of the uterus that forms a canal between the uterus and vagina.


Examination of the vagina and cervix using a lighted magnifying instrument called a colposcope.

Cone biopsy223

Surgery to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal. Cone biopsy may be used to diagnose or treat a cervical condition. Also called conization.


Any method that uses cold temperature to treat disease.


The study of cells using a microscope.

False positive

A patient with an abnormal screening test but a normal gold standard test for disease. Depending on the outcome of interest, the definition of a normal disease outcome will vary. For example, in analyzing the performance of a cytology screening test result of LSIL+ to predict CIN3+ detected by colposcopically-directed biopsy, false positives would be women with LSIL+ cytology and either normal colposcopy (no biopsy), normal biopsy, or biopsy showing CIN1 or CIN2.


The study of tissues and cells under a microscope.

HPV testing224

Detects presence of HPV genetic material (DNA) high-risk for cervical cancer.

HPV vaccine223

A vaccine being studied in the prevention of human papillomavirus infection and cervical cancer. Infection with certain types of HPV increases the risk of developing cervical cancer. Also called human papillomavirus vaccine.

Liquid-based cytology223

A method for screening for cancerous or precancerous changes of the cervix performed by scraping cells from the cervix and rinsing the sampling device into a vial containing a liquid preservative.

Loop electrosurgical excision procedure223

A technique that uses electric current passed through a thin wire loop to remove abnormal tissue. Also called loop excision and LEEP.

Pap smear223

A method developed by Dr. George Papanicolaou for screening for cancerous or precancerous changes of the cervix performed by scraping cells from the cervix and fixing them on a glass slide. Also known as conventional cytology.

Primary cervical cancer screening test(s)163

A first test (historically cervical cytology) that, if abnormal and meets a pre-established threshold (such as LSIL+), leads to referral for a diagnostic procedure (usually colposcopy and biopsy).


The next routine screening episode after a negative screening test result.


After a primary cervical cancer screening test, those with abnormal results who do not reach the threshold for diagnostic referral go through a repeated protocol of follow-up screening with later colposcopy referral based on persistent or advancing abnormalities.

Round 1 screening

Screening test results (both initial Round 1 results and retesting results) and associated histology for the full duration of Round 1.

Round 2 screening

Screening test results (both initial Round 2 results and restesting results) and associated histology for the full duration of Round 2.


Testing asymptomatic individuals in order to detect disease at an earlier, more treatable stage and minimize adverse outcomes.

Screening interval (or rescreening interval)

Time between routine screening episodes (e.g. three years).

Screening program

A comprehensive screening plan including routine screening intervals and protocols for retesting after equivocal tests and for referral to colposcopy, represented by the designs of national screening programs or of randomized controlled trials.

Squamous cell carcinoma223

Cancer that begins in squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. Squamous cells are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts. Also called epidermoid carcinoma.

Triage test163

A test applied to those with a positive primary test to further select women before referral for a diagnostic procedure (colposcopy and biopsy).

List of acronyms and abbreviations

Abbreviation/AcronymPhrase, term, name of instrument
AGCAtypical glandular cells (specify endocervical or not otherwise specified [NOS])
AGUSAtypical glandular cells of undetermined significance
ACISEndocervical adenocarcinoma in situ
ASC-HAtypical squamous cells – cannot exclude HSIL
ASC-USAtypical squamous cells of undetermined significance
CCConventional cytology
CIConfidence interval
CINCervical intraepithelial neoplasia
CISCarcinoma in situ
CKCCold knife conization
CSQCervical Screening Questionnaire
DRDetection rate
ECCEndocervical curettage
GHQW-12General Health Questionnaire
HC2Digene Hybrid Capture 2 high-risk HPV DNA test
HIVHuman immunodeficiency virus
HPVHuman papillomavirus
HRHazard ratio
hrHPVHigh-risk human papillomavirus
HSILHigh-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion encompassing: moderate and severe dysplasia, CIN2, CIN3, and carcinoma in situ
ICCInvasive cervical cancer
IQRInterquartile range
LBCLiquid-based cytology
LEEPLoop electrosurgical excision procedure
LSILLow-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion encompassing: human papillomavirus/ mild dysplasia/CIN1
OROdds ratio
PCRPolymerase chain reaction
PEAPS-QPsychosocial Effects of Abnormal Pap Smear Questionnaire
PPVPositive predictive value
RCTRandomized controlled trial
RFPPRelative false positive proportion
RLURelative light unit
RRRelative risk
SCCSquamous cell carcinoma
SDStandard deviation
SEStandard error
SONEStrips of neoplastic endocervix
S-STAI-6Short form of Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
STISexually transmitted infection
VIAVisual inspection with acetic acid


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