GPs could start offering women who fail to attend for cervical screening a self-sample HPV test kit when they visit the practice for other reasons, according to public health researchers whose study showed most non-attenders present to their GP at least once a year.
The team – from the Queen Mary University of London – looked at the GP records of 137 practices in east London and identified more than 86,000 women who had not attended for a cervical smear test in the past 3.5 years.
More than half of these women had presented to their GP in the past year, and nearly a third in the past three months.
The researchers said this suggests opportunistic self-sampling could help to increase cervical screening coverage. More than 80% of women who test HPV positive on a self-sample attend for follow-up investigations, they said.
They concluded: ‘Over one year, over half of cervical screening non-attenders could be offered self-sampling for HPV testing opportunistically when they present to their GP.
The team added that it is ‘further investigating the potential for opportunistic offering of self-sampling for HPV testing in pilot study’ and that ‘this will be followed by a large randomised controlled trial’.