Protocol for Compass: A randomised controlled trial of primary HPV testing versus cytology screening for cervical cancer in HPV-unvaccinated and vaccinated women aged 25-69 years living in Australia

Karen Canfell, Marion Saville, Michael Caruana, Val Gebski, Jessica Darlington-Brown, Julia Brotherton, Stella Heley, Philip E. Castle

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8 Scopus citations


Introduction Australia's National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) currently recommends 2-year cytology in women aged 18-69 years. Following a review of the NCSP prompted by the implementation of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, the programme will transition in 2017 to 5-year primary HPV screening with partial genotyping for HPV16/18 in women aged 25-74 years. Compass is a sentinel experience for the renewed NCSP and the first prospectively randomised trial of primary HPV screening compared with cytology to be conducted in a population with high uptake of HPV vaccination. This protocol describes the main Compass trial, which commenced after a pilot study of ∼5000 women completed recruitment. Methods and analysis Women aged 25-69 years will be randomised at a 1:2 allocation to (1) 2.5-year image-read, liquid-based cytology (LBC) screening with HPV triage of low-grade smears (active control Arm A) or (2) 5-year HPV screening with partial genotyping and referral of HPV16/18-positive women to colposcopy (intervention Arm B). Women in Arm B positive for other oncogenic HPV (not 16/18) will undergo secondary randomisation at a 1:1 allocation to either LBC or dual-stained (p16 INK4a and Ki-67) cytology testing (dual-stained cytology). The primary outcome is cumulative CIN3+ (CIN3, adenocarcinoma in situ and invasive cervical cancer) following a 5-year HPV exit testing round in both arms, in women randomised to the HPV arm versus women randomised to the LBC arm, based on an intention-to-treat analysis. The primary outcome will first be tested for non-inferiority and if declared, the primary outcome will be tested for superiority. A total of 36 300 women in birth cohorts not offered vaccination and 84 700 women in cohorts offered vaccination will be recruited, bringing the final sample size to 121 000. The trial is powered for the secondary outcome of cumulative CIN3+ in screen-negative women, adjusted for censoring after CIN2+ treatment and hysterectomy. Ethics and dissemination Approved by the Bellberry Ethics Committee (2014-11-592). Findings will be reported in peer-reviewed journals and presented at scientific meetings. Trial registration number NCT02328872; Pre-results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere016700
JournalBMJ open
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • HPV DNA testing
  • cervical cancer screening
  • cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.
  • human papillomavirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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