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Cervical cancer screening doubles when unscreened women are mailed testing kits

Mailing human papillomavirus (HPV) self-collection tests and offering assistance to book screening appointments to under-screened, low-income women improved cervical cancer screening nearly two-fold compared to scheduling assistance alone. “Many hadn’t engaged in the screening system for a while and getting the kit to their homes helped break down a fundamental barrier,” said researcher Jennifer Smith, PhD (above) of the University of North Carolina.

The study recruited 665 women, ages 25 to 64, who were uninsured or enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare, from 22 counties across North Carolina None had a Pap test in four years or a high-risk HPV test in six years, making them overdue for screening.

Two-thirds of the women received mailed HPV self-collection kits followed by assistance with scheduling a screening appointment at a clinic. The other third received screening scheduling assistance alone.

Screening uptake was 72% among women who received mailed HPV kits compared to 37% for the other group of women. The investigators found that the effect of self-collection outreach on screening uptake didn’t vary across age, race/ethnicity, time since last screening, Medicaid or Medicare insurance coverage, or education.

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