"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Cervical cancer screenings double with mailed DIY kits

May 12, 2023 – Researchers say mailing do-it-yourself sample kits to check for cervical cancer has doubled screening rates in a population of low-income women with inadequate screening rates.

The self-collection kits for human papillomavirus (HPV) detection are currently only available to be used in clinical testing, but researchers hope that these kits will eventually be approved to be used by most of the people.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina investigated the usage of these kits within the study My Body, My Test-3, which published online Thursday within the Journal Lancet public health.

Experts write in a comment A report published with the study said it “provides the necessary evidence that … self-collected samples can be an effective strategy for hard-to-reach populations.”

The study included 665 women (ages 25 to 64) in North Carolina who were either uninsured or enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare. The patients were from low-income families and lived in urban areas. More than half reported being black or Hispanic (55%), uninsured (78%), or unemployed (57%). None of them had a Pap smear prior to now 4 years or a high-risk HPV test prior to now 6 years.

Two-thirds of the ladies received an HPV self-collection kit by mail and assist in arranging an in-person screening appointment. The kit included a Viba-Brush device that's inserted into the vagina like a tampon to gather the sample.

The other third of the ladies, the control group, only received assistance with scheduling appointments.

The team found that when patients were mailed self-collection tests and helped to book appointments on the clinic, screening rates doubled in comparison with when patients were only helped to book appointments.

The screening success rate amongst those that received the house collection kit was 72% in comparison with 37% within the control group.

Of those that received the kits, 78% returned them. That's “impressive,” say the authors of the commentary, since previous studies reported response rates of only 8 to twenty%.

About 23% of girls eligible for cervical cancer screening are no less than one yr late. according to the National Cancer InstituteJennifer Smith, PhD, MPH, professor of epidemiology on the Gillings School of Global Public Health on the University of North Caroline Chapel Hill and creator of the study, believes every woman deserves equal access to cervical cancer screening.

“I think we really need to make an effort to increase cervical cancer screening among women whose screening date is one year or more beyond recommended guidelines,” Smith said. “We have demonstrated, along with a large body of evidence in the U.S. and around the world, that self-specimen collection works well and can motivate screening participation by reducing barriers for populations that have less access to care.”

“We hope that this research, combined with all the extensive evidence of the positive performance of HPV self-sampling, will provide additional information that the FDA can consider when approving the kits for primary screening,” Smith said.

“Federal approval of home HPV testing would have a huge impact,” said co-author Noel Brewer, PhD, also of UNC Chapel Hill. “We could better reach people in rural areas where cervical cancer screenings are hard to come by.”