Objective: To assess the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) testing and cytology as predictors of residual/recurrent disease after treatment of high-grade cervical intraepithelial lesions. Methods: One hundred and thirty-eight women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 2/3 lesion on biopsy were included in a prospective follow-up study in Belgium and Nicaragua. All women were treated with loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and follow-up visits took place at 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years. During these visits, a Papanicolaou (Pap) smear test was taken, colposcopy was performed and specimens were collected for HPV testing. Cytology, high-risk (HR) HPV presence, persistent HR HPV infection and combinations of these tests at different time points during follow-up were correlated with histologically confirmed residual/recurrent disease. Results: Thirteen patients (9%) developed residual/recurrent disease during follow-up. Abnormal cytology at 6 weeks after treatment was significantly correlated with residual/recurrent disease. Nine of thirty-seven patients with abnormal cytology at 6 weeks had recurrent disease versus three of seventy with a normal cytology [odds ratio (OR): 7.2; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.8-28.5; P = 0.003). Sensitivity of this test was 75.0%, specificity 70.5%. Combining abnormal cytology and the presence of HR HPV within the first 6 months after treatment gave the best correlation with residual/recurrent disease: of the 54 women with abnormal cytology and/or HR HPV presence within the first 6 months, 11 developed residual/recurrent disease (OR 10.2; 95% CI: 2.2-48.3). Sensitivity of this combination was 84.6% and specificity 65.0%. Conclusion: Cytology remains the cornerstone in the early follow-up after LEEP for CIN lesions of the cervix. HPV testing can add value as it increases the sensitivity of cytology in concomitant testing within the first 6 months.
- Human papillomavirus
- Recurrent disease