Abstract: Improvements in the performance of cervical screening may be limited by the diagnostic performance of colposcopy. Nonetheless, colposcopy remains the best available tool to assess women considered at high risk for having or developing cervical cancer. The provision and role of colposcopy across Europe is variable. Introduction of vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 as well as the possible switch to HPV-based screening is likely to change the profiles of women presenting to colposcopy services and provide management difficulties for the colposcopist.
The standard of colposcopy in Europe can be maintained or improved despite a variable availability of screening. The prevalence of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 may decrease for women having had HPV vaccination. The incidence of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 and cervical cancer in second and subsequent rounds of HPV-based screening are likely to decrease compared to cytology-based screening. In HPV-based screening, the numbers of women with no detectable or minor abnormalities at colposcopy and with screen-detected glandular disease are likely to increase. We have considered how these issues will affect states that have varying implementation of organized cervical screening programs and varying degrees of implementation of HPV testing or vaccination.
The development of quality assurance across Europe accompanying these program changes is discussed.