Human papillomavirus testing on self-collected samples to detect high-grade cervical lesions in rural Bhutan: The REACH-Bhutan study

Gary M Clifford, Iacopo Baussano, Daniëlle A M Heideman, Sangay Tshering, Tashi Choden, Fulvio Lazzarato, Vanessa Tenet, Silvia Franceschi, Teresa M Darragh, Tashi Tobgay, Ugyen Tshomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: "REACH-Bhutan" aimed to evaluate the feasibility and clinical performance of a community-based screening program for cervical cancer in rural Bhutan using self-collected samples for high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) testing.

METHODS: In April/May 2016, 2590 women aged 30-60 years were screened across rural Bhutan by providing a self-collected sample for careHPV testing. All careHPV-positive women, plus a random sample of careHPV-negative women, were recalled for colposcopy and biopsy. Self-samples also underwent GP5+/6+ polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based HR-HPV DNA detection and genotyping. Cross-sectional screening indices were estimated against histological high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions or worse (hHSIL+), including imputation of hHSIL+ in women without colposcopy.

RESULTS: HR-HPV positivity was 10.2% by careHPV and 14.8% by GP5+/6+ PCR. Twenty-two cases of hHSIL+ were histologically diagnosed, including one invasive cancer; an additional 7 hHSIL+ were imputed in women without colposcopy. HR-HPV testing by GP5+/6+ showed higher sensitivity for hHSIL+ (89.7%, 95% CI 72.6-97.8) than careHPV (75.9%, 95% CI 56.5-89.7). Negative predictive value was also slightly higher for GP5+/6+ (99.9%, 95% CI 99.6-100) than careHPV (99.7%, 95% CI 99.4-99.9). Specificity, however, was lower for GP5+/6+ (86.1%, 95% CI 84.6-87.4) than careHPV (90.6%, 95% CI 89.4-91.7), as was positive predictive value (6.9%, 95% CI 4.5-9.9 vs. 8.5%, 95% CI 5.4-12.6). Of 377 HR-HPV-positive women by GP5+/6+, 173 (45.9%) were careHPV-positive, including 54.7% HPV16-positive and 30.2% HPV18-positive women.

CONCLUSIONS: The final REACH-Bhutan results show that screening for cervical cancer with self-collection of samples and HR-HPV testing, in addition to our previous report of achieving high participation, can also perform well to detect women with hHSIL+.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11828-11837
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Medicine
Issue number10
Early online date31 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • cancer prevention
  • screening
  • viral infection
  • women's cancer

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