Self-collected Pap smears may provide an acceptable and effective method of cervical cancer screening

Amita A. Singla, Paul Komesaroff

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Background and aims: The role of the Papanicolou (Pap) smear in the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer is well established. However, many women fail to undertake the test because of embarrassment or other reasons. To address this problem, we evaluated the feasibility of implementing self-sampling of cervical cytology as an alternative to clinician-collected Pap smears and compared it with the gold standard of colposcopy in terms of specificity. Materials and methods: A prospective preliminary study of 40 women recruited from the colposcopy clinic of a tertiary referral hospital was undertaken. Participants were instructed in the technique of self-sampling and asked to collect their own Pap smears. Colposcopic examinations were performed and biopsies taken, if indicated. Clinician-collected Pap smears were performed 4 weeks later. Pairwise agreement was calculated between the outcomes of self-collected, colposcopic, and clinician-collected samples using the weighted κ statistic. Results: Self-collected Pap smear had a high level of acceptability among the women, all of whom were able to collect adequate tissue. The agreement of self-collected Pap smears with colposcopic assessment was no worse than that of clinician-collected Pap smears (Cohen's κ statistic 0.54 [95% CI, 0.27-0.82]; cf 0.49 [0.2-0.78], respectively). The specificity of self-collected Pap smears was almost identical to that of clinician-collected samples (specificity: 86% vs 81%, respectively). Direct comparison between patient and clinician collected Pap smears showed fair agreement (κ statistic 0.38 [0.07-0.68]). There were no adverse events in either group. Conclusions: Self-collection of Pap smears is an effective and acceptable alternative to clinician-collected samples and may provide a strategy for improving compliance with cervical testing programs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere33
    Number of pages5
    JournalHealth Science Reports
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2018


    • cervical cancer
    • colposcopy
    • Pap smear
    • screening
    • self-collected test

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