Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 759–764 | Cite as

Provider management of equivocal cervical cancer screening results among underserved women, 2009–2011: follow-up of atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance

  • Meg Watson
  • Vicki Benard
  • Lavinia Lin
  • Tanner Rockwell
  • Janet Royalty
Original paper



Reflex human papillomavirus (HPV) testing is the preferred triage option for most women diagnosed with atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASC-US). This study was conducted to describe follow-up results of women with ASC-US Pap test results in the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), focusing on HPV test use.


We examined the follow-up of 45,049 women in the NBCCEDP with ASC-US Pap tests during 2009–2011. Data on demographic characteristics, diagnostic procedures, and clinical outcomes were analyzed.


NBCCEDP providers diagnosed 45,049 women (4.5 % of all Pap tests) with an ASC-US result. Of those, 28,271 (62.8 %) were followed with an HPV test, 3,883 (8.6 %) with a repeat Pap test, 6,592 (14.6 %) with colposcopy, and 6,303 were lost to follow-up (14.0 %). Women aged 40 and older were followed more often with an HPV test. White, black, and Asian/Pacific Islander women were followed more often with an HPV test after an ASC-US Pap compared to Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women. Among women with a positive HPV test on follow-up, almost 90 % continued with colposcopy as recommended. AI/AN women had the highest rates of HPV positivity (55.2 %) and of no follow-up (25.0 %).


This is the first analysis describing follow-up of ASC-US Pap test results in the NBCCEDP, providing a window into current management of ASC-US results. Findings raise concerns about persistent disparities among AI/AN women. During 2009–2011, nearly two-thirds of women with an ASC-US Pap test result were followed with an HPV reflex test.


HPV testing ASC-US NBCCEDP Pap test 



We would like to thank William Helsel and William Kammerer from Information Management Services, Inc. for their assistance with data analysis. This research was supported in part by an appointment (LL) to the Research Participation Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education through an interagency agreement between the US Department of Energy and CDC.

Conflict of interest

The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meg Watson
    • 1
  • Vicki Benard
    • 1
  • Lavinia Lin
    • 1
  • Tanner Rockwell
    • 2
  • Janet Royalty
    • 1
  1. 1.Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch, Division of Cancer Prevention and ControlCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Information Management Services, Inc.CalvertonUSA

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