Addressing emerging health system priorities in cervical cancer prevention: determining optimal strategies for human papillomavirus test-based primary screening

Cervical cancer remains a significant women’s health issue in Canada even after the introduction of cytology screens (i.e. Pap smears) in 1949, which resulted in a reduction of cases. It is frequently diagnosed in young women, who are embedded in careers, raising families, or still planning to conceive. Treatment can affect women’s ability to work, care for families and cause infertility, and survival rate is often low. It is thus vital to improve preventative screening programs using recent testing innovations. Testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) is more effective than cytology, but it is not yet used in BC. HPV FOr CerviCAL Cancer (FOCAL) was a trial investigating HPV testing. Participants were followed for ten years post-trial through linkage to the BC Cervix Screening Program to create the FOCAL-DECADE cohort. We will use data from this cohort to compare long-term rates of cervical precancer between those who received cytology or HPV testing, expecting significantly reduced rates in the HPV group. These results will inform decision-makers, like the provincial screening program, of best screening practices (e.g. screen interval), aiding transition to HPV-based testing programs, thus helping reduce cervical cancer across BC.