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Evaluation of primary HPV-DNA testing in relation to visual inspection methods for cervical cancer screening in rural China: an epidemiologic and cost-effectiveness modelling study

Ju-Fang Shi123, Karen Canfell23*, Jie-Bin Lew2, Fang-Hui Zhao1, Rosa Legood4, Yan Ning5, Leonardo Simonella23, Li Ma5, Yoon-Jung Kang23, Yong-Zhen Zhang6, Megan A Smith2, Jun-Feng Chen5, Xiang-Xian Feng7 and You-Lin Qiao1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cancer Epidemiology, Cancer Institute, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, 17, South Panjiayuan LN, PO Box 2258, Beijing 100021, China

2 Cancer Epidemiology Research Unit, Cancer Council NSW, 153 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo 2011, New South Wales, Australia

3 School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Australia

4 The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, WC1E 7HT, United Kingdom

5 School of Public Health, Dalian Medical University, Dalian 116044, Liaoning Province, China

6 Shanxi Cancer Institute/Hospital, Taiyuan 030013, Shanxi Province, China

7 Changzhi Medical College, Changzhi 046000, Shanxi Province, China

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:239  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-239

Published: 13 June 2011



A new lower-cost rapid-throughput human papillomavirus (HPV) test (careHPV, Qiagen, Gaithersburg, USA) has been shown to have high sensitivity for the detection of high grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.


We assessed the outcomes and cost-effectiveness of careHPV screening in rural China, compared to visual inspection with acetic acid, when used alone (VIA) or in combination with Lugol's iodine (VIA/VILI). Using data on sexual behaviour, test accuracy, diagnostic practices and costs from studies performed in rural China, we estimated the cost-effectiveness ratio (CER) and associated lifetime outcomes for once-lifetime and twice-lifetime screening strategies, and for routine screening at 5-yearly, 10-yearly and IARC-recommended intervals. The optimal age range for once-lifetime screening was also assessed.


For all strategies, the relative ordering of test technologies in reducing cervical cancer incidence and mortality was VIA (least effective); VIA/VILI; careHPV@1.0 pg/ml and careHPV@0.5 pg/ml (most effective). For once-lifetime strategies, maximum effectiveness was achieved if screening occurred between 35-50 years. Assuming a participation rate of ~70%, once-lifetime screening at age 35 years would reduce cancer mortality by 8% (for VIA) to 12% (for careHPV@0.5) over the long term, with a CER of US$557 (for VIA) to $959 (for careHPV@1.0) per life year saved (LYS) compared to no intervention; referenced to a 2008 GDP per capita in Shanxi Province of $2,975. Correspondingly, regular screening with an age-standardised participation rate of 62% (which has been shown to be achievable in this setting) would reduce cervical cancer mortality by 19-28% (for 10-yearly screening) to 43-54% (using IARC-recommended intervals), with corresponding CERs ranging from $665 (for 10-yearly VIA) to $2,269 (for IARC-recommended intervals using careHPV@1.0) per LYS.


This modelled analysis suggests that primary careHPV screening compares favourably to visual inspection screening methodologies in rural China, particularly if used as part of a regular screening program.