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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999 May;180(5):1049-53.

Is human papillomavirus testing of value in clinical practice?

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Division of Molecular Virology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.


The objective of this review was to evaluate the current status of human papillomavirus testing in predicting the presence of high-grade or invasive disease in the cervix in women with Papanicolaou smears reported as atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) or low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. This is a review of many of the studies already published evaluating the utility of human papillomavirus testing as part of the triage for patients whose Papanicolaou smears were reported as ASCUS or low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. Two triage approaches for follow-up of such patients are presented, and recommendations are made as to which is most cost-effective and safe. Data related to human papillomavirus testing were obtained with both currently available commercial kits for detection of high-risk human papillomavirus and the polymerase chain reaction. There was variation in results reported, possibly related to populations studied. The approach to management by cytologic screening and colposcopy, when indicated, appeared over the long term to be equal to human papillomavirus testing. In our opinion current human papillomavirus testing is of little clinical use to the practitioner. Its use should be limited to appropriately designed and implemented research studies.

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