Role of E6/E7 mRNA test in the diagnostic algorithm of HPV-positive patients showing ASCUS and LSIL: clinical and economic implications in a publicly financed healthcare system

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Objective: Colposcopy is widely used to triage women with mild cervical abnormalities. However, this approach is associated with low specificity and predictive value. The efficacy of E6/E7 mRNA test for this purpose has been demonstrated, but studies estimating its cost-effectiveness are still lacking. Given the limited healthcare financial resources, such an evaluation is a priority. Methods: We analyzed the clinical history of 432 women referred to colposcopy and colposcopy-directed biopsy for persisting ASCUS and LSIL, and compared three alternative triage protocols: immediate colposcopy; reflex HPV DNA testing and HPV DNA plus mRNA tests in sequence. Results: Molecular tests in sequence significantly reduce colposcopy referral, cost for assessed women, and cost for CIN2 detected. On the other hand, incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of this protocol was the highest. Conclusion: Our preliminary data, providing an estimation of the economic burden deriving from the introduction of E6/E7 mRNA test in the triage algorithm of patients with mild cervical abnormalities, may be useful for future healthcare policy.

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