Cervical Cancer Screening: could a simple Urine Test replace invasive Smear Tests?

Accuracy of urinary human papillomavirus testing for presence of cervical HPV: systematic review and meta-analysis

A simple urine test which can detect the human papilloma virus (HPV) could offer women a much less invasive alternative to the cervical cancer screening or ‘smear’ test, experts have said.

New research published in The BMJ has revealed that the tests are accurate and efficient, and the doctors behind the study said that offering the test could help reverse a fall in the number of young women being screened for possible cancer.

Abstract

Image of the The BMJ logo
Testing urine for HPV seems to have good accuracy for the detection of cervical HPV.

Objective
To determine the accuracy of testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA in urine in detecting cervical HPV in sexually active women.

Design
Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources
Searches of electronic databases from inception until December 2013, checks of reference lists, manual searches of recent issues of relevant journals, and contact with experts.

Eligibility criteria
Test accuracy studies in sexually active women that compared detection of urine HPV DNA with detection of cervical HPV DNA.

Data extraction and synthesis
Data relating to patient characteristics, study context, risk of bias, and test accuracy. 2×2 tables were constructed and synthesised by bivariate mixed effects meta-analysis.

Results
16 articles reporting on 14 studies (1443 women) were eligible for meta-analysis. Most used commercial polymerase chain reaction methods on first void urine samples. Urine detection of any HPV had a pooled sensitivity of 87% (95% confidence interval 78% to 92%) and specificity of 94% (95% confidence interval 82% to 98%). Urine detection of high risk HPV had a pooled sensitivity of 77% (68% to 84%) and specificity of 88% (58% to 97%). Urine detection of HPV 16 and 18 had a pooled sensitivity of 73% (56% to 86%) and specificity of 98% (91% to 100%). Metaregression revealed an increase in sensitivity when urine samples were collected as first void compared with random or midstream (P=0.004).

Limitations
The major limitations of this review are the lack of a strictly uniform method for the detection of HPV in urine and the variation in accuracy between individual studies.

Conclusions
Testing urine for HPV seems to have good accuracy for the detection of cervical HPV, and testing first void urine samples is more accurate than random or midstream sampling. When cervical HPV detection is considered difficult in particular subgroups, urine testing should be regarded as an acceptable alternative.

Sources and More Information:
  • Accuracy of urinary human papillomavirus testing for presence of cervical HPV: systematic review and meta-analysis, BMJ 2014;349:g5264, 16 September 2014.
  • New urine test could replace invasive smear tests, TheIndependent Health News 9736609, 17 September 2014.
  • HPV urine test could screen for cervical cancer, NHS Choices, cancer, 17 September 2014.

Author: DES Daughter

Activist, blogger and social media addict committed to shedding light on a global health scandal and dedicated to raise DES awareness.

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