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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e38956. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038956. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Relative accuracy of cervical and anal cytology for detection of high grade lesions by colposcope guided biopsy: a cut-point meta-analytic comparison.

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Department of Medicine, University of California at San Diego, San Diego, California, United States of America.



We recently reported, using a receiver operating characteristic area metric, the first meta-analytic comparison of the relative accuracy of cervical and anal cytology in detecting moderate or severe histopathologic lesions by magnification directed punch biopsy. The aim of the present research was to meta-analytically examine cut-point specific operating characteristics (sensitivity, specificity) of cervical and anal cytology in detecting high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL) histopathology by colposcope directed punch biopsy.


The primary eligibility requirement was availability of tabulated cytology (normal, atypical cells of unclear significance [ASCUS], low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, HSIL or atypical squamous cells cannot rule out high grade [ASC-H]) and biopsy (<HSIL, ā‰„ HSIL) counts. Meta-analysis and meta-regression of diagnostic accuracy was performed with examination of study quality criteria and heterogeneity. Thirty-three cervical and 11 anal publications were eligible between 1990 and 2010. Meta-analytically cut-point analysis showed that using a cut-point of ASCUS the sensitivity in both settings is similar while anal cytology is less specific than cervical cytology (specificity [95% confidence interval] 0.33 [0.20-0.49] vs. 0.53[0.40-0.66], pā€Š=ā€Š0.04) for the detection of HSIL histopathology by colposcope directed punch biopsy.


Using a cytology cut-point of HSIL or ASC-H, anal cytology is less sensitive but comparably specific to cervical cytology. However, using a cut-point of ASCUS, differences in accuracy were of borderline significance.

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