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Cancer Cytopathol. 2013 Dec;121(12):675-87. doi: 10.1002/cncy.21325. Epub 2013 Jul 23.

Triage of women with minor abnormal cervical cytology: meta-analysis of the accuracy of an assay targeting messenger ribonucleic acid of 5 high-risk human papillomavirus types.

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Unit of Cancer Epidemiology, Scientific Institute of Public Health, Brussels, Belgium.



High-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) DNA detection is generally accepted for the triage of women with a cytologic diagnosis of atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASC-US). However, no consensus has been reached on the optimal management of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL).


In this meta-analysis, the diagnostic accuracy of nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA) detection of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) of 5 hrHPV types (the PreTect HPV-Proofer and NucliSENS EasyQ tests) for detecting grade 2 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or worse (CIN2+) and CIN3+ was assessed in women who had a diagnosis of ASC-US and LSIL. The results were compared with the Hybrid Capture-2 (HC2) assay, which detects the DNA of 13 hrHPV types. A bivariate random-effect model that incorporated the intrinsic correlation between the true-positive and false-positive rates was used for a pooled meta-analysis.


Considering underlying CIN2+, the pooled absolute sensitivity of the 10 included studies was 75.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 68.1%-82.7%) and 76.2% (95% CI, 68.3%-76.9%) for the triage of ASC-US and LSIL, respectively. The pooled absolute specificity to exclude CIN2+ was 77.9% (95% CI, 70.1%-85.7%) and 74.2% (95% CI, 69.5%-78.8%) in women with ASC-US and LSIL, respectively. Five studies allowed direct comparison of the mRNA assays with HC2. Considering CIN2+ in women with ASC-US and LSIL, mRNA testing was substantially more specific than the HC2 assay (ratio: 1.98 and 3.36, respectively; P < .001) but was less sensitive (ratio: 0.80 and 0.74, respectively; P < .001).


HPV assays for detecting the mRNA of 5 hrHPV types may reduce the over-diagnosis of women who have minor cytologic abnormalities. However, given the lower sensitivity, women with negative mRNA test results cannot be considered free of CIN2+ and require further surveillance.


HPV; atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance; cervical cancer; cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; diagnostic accuracy; human papillomavirus testing; low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions; messenger RNA; meta-analysis; triage

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