Colposcopy has been recommended for all women with recurrent post‐coital bleeding (PCB) even if their cervical cytology or co‐test (involving oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing and cytology) are negative.
To determine the risk of cervical cancer and its precursors among women with recurrent PCB with negative cytology or co‐test.
Materials and Methods
A retrospective analysis of two cohorts of women with PCB referred to a tertiary colposcopy clinic. Cohort (1) (n = 1846) between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2016 (cytology‐based screening) and Cohort (2) (n = 215) from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019 after introduction of primary HPV screening.
In 1217 (65.9%) women in Cohort (1) referred with negative cytology, there was one cancer (0.08%) and 22 high‐grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2/3)) on histopathology. In Cohort (2), there was no cancer or HSIL in 83 women with negative co‐tests (negative for oncogenic HPV and cytology). False‐negative cytology after a negative referral cytology or co‐test was low with 2% of repeat cytology at initial colposcopy showing possible HSIL or worse.
Women presenting with PCB and negative cytology alone have a low risk of cancer and could have HPV testing before being triaged to colposcopy. We showed that with the assurance of a negative co‐test and the low likelihood of false‐negative cytology, these women could avoid colposcopy unless cervical cancer is clinically suspected. There is a need for a larger cohort study to substantiate our findings with more precision.