Is cervical screening preventing adenocarcinoma and adenosquamous carcinoma of the cervix?

While the incidence of squamous carcinoma of the cervix has declined in countries with organised screening, adenocarcinoma has become more common. Cervical screening by cytology often fails to prevent adenocarcinoma. Using prospectively recorded cervical screening data in England and Wales, we conducted a population-based case-control study to examine whether cervical screening leads to early diagnosis and down-staging of adenocarcinoma. Conditional logistic regression modelling was carried out to provide odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) on 12,418 women with cervical cancer diagnosed between ages 30 and 69 and 24,453 age-matched controls. Of women with adenocarcinoma of the cervix, 44.3% were up to date with screening and 14.6% were non-attenders. The overall OR comparing women up to date with screening with non-attenders was 0.46 (95% CI: 0.39-0.55) for adenocarcinoma. The odds were significantly decreased (OR: 0.22, 95% CI: 0.15-0.33) in up to date women with Stage 2 or worse adenocarcinoma, but not for women with Stage1A adenocarcinoma 0.71 (95% CI: 0.46-1.09). The odds of Stage 1A adenocarcinoma was double among lapsed attenders (OR: 2.35, 95% CI: 1.52-3.62) compared to non-attenders. Relative to women with no negative cytology within 7 years of diagnosis, women with Stage1A adenocarcinoma were very unlikely to be detected within 3 years of a negative cytology test (OR: 0.08, 95% CI: 0.05-0.13); however, the odds doubled 3-5 years after a negative test (OR: 2.30, 95% CI: 1.67-3.18). ORs associated with up to date screening were smaller for squamous and adenosquamous cervical carcinoma. Although cytology screening is inefficient at preventing adenocarcinomas, invasive adenocarcinomas are detected earlier than they would be in the absence of screening, substantially preventing Stage 2 and worse adenocarcinomas.

International journal of cancer. 2016 May 06 [Epub]

Alejandra Castanon, Rebecca Landy, Peter D Sasieni

Centre for Cancer Prevention, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Bart's and the London School of Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, Charterhouse Square, London, United Kingdom.