The incidence of cervical carcinoma has decreased by about half since cytological screening was introduced in Sweden in the 1960s. This is an encouraging but not altogether satisfactory development. Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are known to be potential agents in the etiology of cervical cancer. Therefore, an additional HPV test might well improve the detection rate of high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). The purpose of this investigation was to compare the correlation of cytology and HPV testing in a pilot study of 94 women recruited from a clinic for sexually transmitted diseases after condyloma treatment and to check earlier established molecular biological assays. Cervical scrapings, taken for simultaneous Pap smear and molecular HPV DNA testing, were assessed by the polymerase chain reaction. Of the 94 women tested, 47 (50%) had normal cytology and negative HPV DNA; 36 (38%) had normal cytology but positive HPV DNA, 26 (72%) of whom harbored high-risk HPVs; 1 (1 %) had abnormal cytology but negative HPV DNA, and 10 (11%) had abnormal cytology and positive HPV DNA, 5 (50%) of whom harbored high-risk HPVs. It is concluded that an HPV test would add greater specificity and possibly also greater sensitivity to cytology for detecting or predicting high-grade CIN. This information may be of value when designing future gynecological screening programs.

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