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The Pap test: Evidence to date Original source: Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention (ACCP) www.alliance-cxca.org.

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Presentation on theme: "The Pap test: Evidence to date Original source: Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention (ACCP) www.alliance-cxca.org."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Pap test: Evidence to date Original source: Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention (ACCP) www.alliance-cxca.org

2 Overview: zDescription of the Papanicolaou (Pap) smear test and how it works zInfrastructure requirements zWhat test results mean zTest performance zStrengths and limitations zProgram implications in low-resource settings

3 What does a Pap test involve? zPerforming a vaginal speculum exam during which a health care provider takes a sample of cells from a woman’s cervix using a small flat spatula or brush. zSmearing and fixing cells onto a glass slide. zSending the slide to a cytology laboratory where it is stained and examined under a microscope to determine cell classification. zTransmitting the results back to the provider and then to the woman.

4 What infrastructure does cytology require? zPrivate exam area zExamination table zTrained health professionals z Sterile vaginal speculum zSupplies and equipment for preparing and interpreting the Pap smears (e.g., spatulas, glass slides, fixative, stains, microscopes) z Marker/pencil/glass writer/labels z Cytology requisition forms Continued …

5 What infrastructure does cytology require? (cont.) z Record books or sheets zSlide mailers zCytology laboratories with skilled personnel to interpret results zPathologists zTransportation of slides to the laboratory and back zInformation systems to ensure follow-up contact with clients zQuality assurance system to maximize accuracy

6 Categories for Pap test results: zNormal results: yIf no abnormal cells are seen, then the test result is normal. yIf only benign changes are seen, usually resulting from inflammation or irritation, then the test result is normal. zAbnormal results: yAtypical cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS, AGUS). yLow-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL) or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 1. These are mild, subtle cell changes, and most go away without treatment. yHigh-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) or CIN 2 or 3. Moderate and severe cell changes which require further testing or treatment.  Carcinoma.

7 Management options if the Pap test result is abnormal: zFor women with low-grade squamous abnormalities (ASCUS or LSIL), give periodic Pap tests until the abnormality resolves, or a colposcopy referral for persistent lesions. zWomen with glandular abnormalities (AGUS) usually are referred for colposcopy. zWomen with HSIL usually are referred for colposcopy. zWomen with HSIL should be treated to remove or destroy the abnormal cells.

8 Test performance: Sensitivity and specificity zSensitivity: The proportion of all those with disease that the test correctly identifies as positive. zSpecificity: The proportion of all those without disease (normal) that the test correctly identifies as negative.

9 Pap test performance: zSensitivity = 51% for CIN I or higher yRange of 37% to 84% zSpecificity = 98% for CIN I or higher yRange of 86% to 100% zThese results are from a meta-analyses of cross- sectional studies (AHCPR 1999). zSeveral ACCP studies have also found Pap test sensitivity in the range of 50% at best.

10 Strengths of cytology: zHistorical success in developed countries. zHigh specificity, meaning women with no cervical abnormalities are correctly identified by the test with normal test results. zA well characterized screening approach. zMay have the potential to be cost-effective in middle-income countries.

11 Limitations of cytology: zModerate to low sensitivity: yHigh rate of false-negative test results yWomen must be screened frequently zRater dependent zRequires complex infrastructure zResults are not immediately available zRequires multiple visits zLikely to be less accurate among post- menopausal women

12 Conclusions: yCytology may be an appropriate screening approach in middle-resource settings with reliable quality control mechanisms. yCytology infrastructural requirements generally make it an impractical approach for many low- resource settings. yDecision makers need to carefully consider how existing Pap smear services can be strengthened or whether to explore alterative screening approaches.

13 References: zACCP. Pap smears: An important but imperfect method. Cervical Cancer Prevention Fact Sheet. (October 2002). zAgency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR). Evaluation of Cervical Cytology. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment, No. 5. Rockville, MD. (1999).

14 For more information on cervical cancer prevention: zThe Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention (ACCP) www.alliance-cxca.org zACCP partner organizations: yEngenderHealth www.engenderhealth.orgwww.engenderhealth.org yInternational Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) www.iarc.fr www.iarc.fr yJHPIEGO www.jhpiego.orgwww.jhpiego.org yPan American Health Organization (PAHO) www.paho.org www.paho.org yProgram for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) www.path.orgwww.path.org


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