An Alternative Approach for Estimating the Accuracy of Colposcopy in Detecting Cervical Precancer
Davies, Kalatu R.
Cantor, Scott B.
Cox, Dennis D.
Introduction: Since colposcopy helps to detect cervical cancer in its precancerous stages, as new strategies and technologies are developed for the clinical management of cervical neoplasia, precisely determining the accuracy of colposcopy is important for characterizing its continued role. Our objective was to employ a more precise methodology to estimate of the accuracy of colposcopy to better reflect clinical practice. Study design: For each patient, we compared the worst histology result among colposcopically positive sites to the worst histology result among all sites biopsied, thereby more accurately determining the number of patients that would have been underdiagnosed by colposcopy than previously estimated. Materials and Methods: We utilized data from a clinical trial in which 850 diagnostic patients had been enrolled. Seven hundred and ninety-eight of the 850 patients had been examined by colposcopy, and biopsy samples were taken at colposcopically normal and abnormal sites. Our endpoints of interest were the percentages of patients underdiagnosed, and sensitivity and specificity of colposcopy. Results: With the threshold of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions for positive colposcopy and histology diagnoses, the sensitivity of colposcopy decreased from our previous assessment of 87.0% to 74.0%, while specificity remained the same. The drop in sensitivity was the result of histologically positive sites that were diagnosed as negative by colposcopy. Thus, 28.4% of the 798 patients in this diagnostic group would have had their condition underdiagnosed by colposcopy in the clinic. Conclusions: In utilizing biopsies at multiple sites of the cervix, we present a more precise methodology for determining the accuracy of colposcopy. The true accuracy of colposcopy is lower than previously estimated. Nevertheless, our results reinforce previous conclusions that colposcopy has an important role in the diagnosis of cervical precancer.
Citable link to this pagehttps://hdl.handle.net/1911/88819
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