California Deploys Self-Collected Samples for HPV Testing
During California’s stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic, cervical cancer screening rates among approximately 1.5 million women in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) network decreased approximately 80% compared with baseline. The decrease was similar across all racial/ethnic groups of KPSC and returned to near normal after reopening, reported the U.S. CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report issued on January 28, 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a critical need for effective cancer screening methods for patients who cannot or prefer not to have in-person appointments.
For colorectal cancer screening, KPSC has been using self-sampling fecal immunochemical test (FIT) kits available by mail or pharmacy and has continued mailing these to patients’ homes during the pandemic without interruptions. This FIT approach might serve as a future cervical cancer screening model through self-collected samples for HPV testing.
The US Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved self-sampling for HPV tests, but the evidence base for self-sampling demonstrates good accuracy and high acceptability among women. The adoption of self-sampling for HPV testing might help maximize patient safety and overcome the barrier of fear of SARS-CoV-2 infection from clinic visits.
However, for women who have abnormal screening results, follow-up care at a clinic could remain a challenge, says the CDC.