Liquid-based cytology in cervical screening: an updated rapid and systematic review and economic analysis

Authors: Karnon J, Peters J, Platt J, Chilcott J, McGoogan E, Brewer N

Journal: Health Technology Assessment Volume: 8 Issue: 20

Publication date: May 2004



Karnon J, Peters J, Platt J, Chilcott J, McGoogan E, Brewer N.Liquid-based cytology in cervical screening: an updated rapid and systematic review and economic analysis. Health Technol Assess 2004;8(20)

Download: Citation (for this publication as a .ris file) (3.9 KB)

Journal issues* can be purchased by completing the form.

The cost of reports varies according to number of pages and postage address. The minimum cost for a copy sent to a UK address is £30.00. We will contact you on receipt of your completed form to advise you of actual cost. If you have any queries, please contact

*We regret that unfortunately we are unable to supply bound print copies of Health Technology Assessment published before issue 12:31. However, PDFs are available to print from the "Downloads" tab of the issue page.


No responses have been published. If you would like to submit a response to this publication, please do so using the form below.

Comments submitted to the NIHR Journals Library are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our readers to debate issues raised in research reports published in the Journals Library. We aim to post within 2 working days all responses that contribute substantially to the topic investigated, as determined by the Editors.

Your name and affiliations will be published with your comment.

Once published, you will not have the right to remove or edit your response. The Editors may add, remove, or edit comments at their absolute discretion.

Post your response



Middle Initial

Occupation / Job title

Affiliation / Employer



Other authors

For example, if you are responding as a team or group. Please ensure you include full names and separate these using commas

Statement of competing interests

We believe that readers should be aware of any competing interests (conflicts of interest).

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) define competing interests as including: financial relationships with industry (for example through employment, consultancies, stock, ownership, honoraria, and expert testimony), either directly or through immediate family; personal relationships; academic competition; and intellectual passion.

If yes, provide details below:

Enter response title

Enter response message


Security key

Regenerate security key

By submitting your response, you are stating that you agree to the terms & conditions

The full text of this issue is available as a PDF document from the Downloads section on this page.



To update an earlier published report reviewing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of liquid-based cytology (LBC).

Data sources

Electronic bibliographic databases, relevant articles, sponsor submissions and various health services research-related resources.

Review methods

The selected data were reviewed and assessed with respect to the quality of the evidence. Pooled estimates of the parameters of interest were derived from the original and the updated studies. Meta-analyses were undertaken where appropriate. The mathematical model developed for the original rapid review of LBC was adapted to synthesise the updated data to estimate costs, survival and quality-adjusted survival of patients tested using LBC and using Papanicolaou (Pap) smear testing. Cost data from published sources were incorporated into the above model to allow economic, as well as clinical, implications of treatment to be assessed. The primary incremental cost-effectiveness ratio is the cost per life year gained (LYG), although estimates of the cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained are also presented. A sensitivity analysis was undertaken to identify the key parameters that determine the cost-effectiveness of the treatments, with the objective of identifying how robust the results of the economic analysis are, given the current level of evidence.


From the evidence available, it is likely that the LBC technique will reduce the number of false-negative test results. Modelling analyses undertaken as part of this study indicate that this would reduce the incidence of invasive cancer. There is now more evidence to support improvements emanating from the use of LBC screening in terms of a reduced number of unsatisfactory specimens and a decrease in the time needed to obtain the smear samples. The estimated annual gross cost of consumables and operating equipment, and other one-off conversion costs associated with introducing the new technique, will be between 17 British pounds and 38 British pounds million in England and Wales, depending on the LBC system and the configuration of the service. Analyses based on models of disease natural history, conducted in this study, showed that conventional Pap smear screening was extendedly dominated by LBC (LBC was always more cost-effective than conventional Pap smear testing over the same screening interval). Comparing LBC across alternative screening intervals gave a cost-effectiveness of under 10,000 British pounds per LYG when screening was undertaken every 3 years. The cost-effectiveness results were relatively stable under most conditions, although if screening outcomes such as borderline results and colposcopy are assumed to induce even small amounts of disutility then LBC screening at 5-yearly intervals may be the most cost-effective option.


This updated analysis provides more certainty with regard to the potential cost-effectiveness of LBC compared with conventional Pap smear testing. However, there is uncertainty regarding the relative effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness) of the two main LBC techniques. Further research in the area of utility assessment may be worthwhile and possibly a full cost-effectiveness study of LBC based on a trial of its introduction in a low-prevalence population, although the results of the modelling analysis provide a robust argument that LBC is a cost-effective alternative to conventional cervical cancer screening. A randomised comparison of the two main techniques may also be useful.

Share this page

Email this page
Publication updates

If you would like to receive information on publications and the latest news, click below to sign up.