Factors that influence persistence or recurrence of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion with positive margins after the loop electrosurgical excision procedure: a retrospective study
Zhu et al. BMC Cancer
Factors that influence persistence or recurrence of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion with positive margins after the loop electrosurgical excision procedure: a retrospective study
Menghan Zhu 0 2
Yuan He 2
Jan PA Baak 1 2
Xianrong Zhou 3
Yuqing Qu 3
Long Sui 1 4
Weiwei Feng 0 1 2
Qing Wang 1 4
0 Equal contributors
1 Shanghai Key Laboratory of Female Reproductive Endocrine-Related Disease, Fudan University , Shanghai , China
2 Department of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, Fudan University , Shen Yang Road 128, Shanghai 200090 , China
3 Department of Pathology, Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, Fudan University , Shanghai , China
4 Department of Cervical Diseases, Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, Fudan University , Shanghai , China
Background: In 5-20 % of patients with cervical high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL), a positive margin after the loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is associated with persistence/recurrence, but the prognostic value of other clinico-pathological factors is less clear. Methods: Among 4336 patients with HSIL who underwent an initial LEEP, 275 (6 %) had HSIL-positive margins, 37 of whom were lost to follow-up. We evaluated the remaining 238 patients. Persistence/recurrence was defined as histopathological HSIL during follow-up. Results: The age of the patients ranged from 21 to 69 years (median: 40). The median follow-up period was 25 months (range: 6-43). Of the 238 patients, 211 (88.7 %) patients remained free of persistence/recurrence, while 27 (11.3 %) experienced persistence/recurrence. According to a univariate analysis, age (P = 0.03) and maximum specimen diameter (P = 0.043) were associated with persistence/recurrence, but number/location of involved margin sections and the pathology of the endocervical curettage were not (P > 0.10). The relative risk of the subjects (greater than or equal to 35 years ages) was 4.6 times of the subject less than 35 years, the difference was statistically significant (14 % vs. 3 %, P < 0.05). A multivariate analysis indicated that an age of 35 years or older was the only independent risk factor (OR 4.97, 95 % CI 1.14-21.62, P = 0.03). Conclusion: In patients with HSIL and HSIL-involved margins after an initial LEEP, age is a strong independent predictor of persistence/recurrence. Follow-up with screening cytology and/or biopsy may be considered in younger patients, whereas a secondary LEEP/hysterectomy may be considered in older patients.
HSIL; LEEP; Positive margins; Recurrence; Persistence; Follow-up
Worldwide, cervical cancer is the most common
malignant tumor of the female reproductive system. Cervical
intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2/3, which is also called
high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL)
according to the Bethesda system, is a well-defined precursor
lesion of cervical invasive squamous cell carcinoma and is
much more frequent than its invasive counterpart.
Cervical cancer can be prevented by early detection and
proper treatment of HSIL. However, there is a trend
toward conservative treatment, particularly in young women
and/or in those who desire to preserve fertility. As one
type of cervical conization surgery, the loop
electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) has been widely applied
with ideal therapeutic effects. However, 2–48 % of patients
with HSIL who are treated with LEEP have been reported
to have persistent/recurrent disease after an initial LEEP
for HSIL [1–7].
Many studies have been conducted that have
investigated the predictors of persistent/recurrent HSIL. Age,
histological grade of the conization specimen, number of
involved margin sections, location of involved margin
sections, preoperative human papilloma virus (HPV)
load, postoperative HPV status, pathology of the
endocervical curettage (ECC), and human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV) infection are among the possible predictors
of persistent/recurrent HSIL [6–13]. A positive margin
after LEEP (defined as a histopathological finding of CIN
along the specimen margin regardless of the CIN grade)
is a well-defined predictor of persistent/recurrent disease
[4, 11, 12, 14]. Some investigations have suggested that
secondary conization (including cold knife conization
and LEEP) or hysterectomy should be applied in patients
who have positive margins, while other studies have
demonstrated that this population can be followed-up
without the need for secondary surgery.
As the spontaneous regression rate of HSIL is much
lower than that of LSIL , it is reasonable to assume
that patients with HSIL margins are more likely to have
persistence/recurrence than patients with LSIL margins;
therefore, a “wait-and-see” strategy would carry a high risk
for persistence/recurrence in patients with HSIL margins
in the initial cervical cone specimen. In contrast, if this
hypothesis cannot be validated, secondary surgery for these
patients may result in overtreatment to a certain extent. A
previous study demonstrated that HSIL can regress ,
which definitely challenged this hypothesis. However, as
data on the persistence/recurrence rate in patients with
HSIL, LSIL margins or HSIL margins are not available,
the optimal treatment for patients with HSIL with positive
margins remains controversial.
Therefore, we analyzed the data of patients with HSIL
and HSIL margins to distinguish the factors that influence
This study was approved by the ethics committee of
Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan
University. We reviewed the medical records of all 6443
patients who had undergone LEEP at the Obstetrics and
Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University from October
2010 to September 2013. All of these 6443 patients
underwent LEEP due to abnormal cervical biopsy
revealed as LSIL or higher.
Of these patients, 4336 were diagnosed with HSIL, 895
were diagnosed with LSIL, 903 were diagnosed with
chronic cervicitis, 308 were diagnosed with invasive
cervical cancer, and 1 was diagnosed with neuroendocrine
carcinoma. Among the 4336 patients with HSIL, 275
(6.34 %) had HSIL-involved surgical margins and the
others were margin-free or LSIL-involved margins. In
275 patients, 37 were excluded due to loss of follow-up
or rejection of follow-up. Finally, a total of 238 patients
were enrolled in this study.
The data in the study were collected from hospital’s
archived database and for the purpose of research. This
study didn’t involve in the diagnosis and treatment of
the patients. Informed consent was waived by the the
ethics committee of Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital
of Fudan University.
Information that was collected included patient
characteristics, details regarding the initial LEEP specimens
(e.g., depth, thickness and maximum diameter), histology
of the first LEEP specimen and ECC specimen, number
and location of involved margin sections, cervical
cytology results, high-risk HPV results, biopsy and ECC
findings during follow-up, and histology from the second
LEEP and hysterectomy after the initial LEEP.
The initial LEEP
The initial LEEP was performed in an outpatient setting
by attending physicians in department of Cervical
Disease of Obstetrics and Gynecology hospital through a
standard procedure with a loop electrode attached to an
electrosurgical unit. The unit was operated in a blended
mode that consisted of 70 W for cutting and 30 W for
coagulation. In all of the LEEPs performed, specimens
were obtained from the transformation zone and the
endocervical canal for histopathological evaluation.
The standardized procedure was as the follows: on the
day of operation, every patient underwent a repeat
colposcopy prior to LEEP to indentify cervical lesions and
transformation zone. 5 % acetic acid and Lugol’s iodine
solution were used in sequence to distinguish cervical
lesions and active transformation zone. The excision
started at 2 o’clock position of the cervix. A rotary cut
was performed with an electrode moving clockwise to
remove the entire active transformation zone. The
presence of lesions were far from the edge of the specimen
(≥3 mm). The depth of excision depended on the
transformation zone: 1) approximate 1 cm if the
squamocolumnar junction (SCJ) was observed; 2) if the SCJ
could not be observed, the addition LEEP in the canal
was performed (top hat LEEP) that the depth of the
specimen was approximate 2.5 cm. Cauterization was
applied on the cervical crater and bleeders for hemostasis.
The duration of the operation was about 5 min.
The LEEP specimens were marked length-wise with
ink and were radially sectioned after the endocervical
portion had been marked for orientation. Before fixation,
each LEEP specimen was measured to determine its
depth, thickness and maximum diameter. The margins
of the LEEP specimens were subdivided into the
following categories: the upper margin, lower margin, bilateral
margin, outer margin, inner margin and stromal margin.
According to ASCCP’s guidelines: “If CIN2, 3 is
identified at the margins of an excisional procedure or
postprocedure ECC, cytology and ECC at 4–6 month is
preferred, but repeat excision is acceptable and
hysterectomy is acceptable if re-excision is not feasible”. So
we performed either a strict follow-up or a secondary
LEEP or hysterectomy according to patients’ conditions
1. Forty-three patients underwent a ThinPrep®
cytologic test (TCT) with an HPV test at the first
follow-up, which was 3–4 months after the initial
LEEP. The subsequent follow-ups occurred every
6–12 months. If the TCT showed abnormal cytology,
including atypical squamous cells of undetermined
significance (ASC-US), LSIL and HSIL, a biopsy was
performed. If the TCT was normal and if two
consecutive HPV tests were positive, a biopsy was
also performed. If HSIL was confirmed by biopsy, a
secondary LEEP or hysterectomy was performed.
This group was named TCT group.
2. One hundred and six patients underwent a TCT, an
HPV test at the first follow-up, and a colposcopically
directed biopsy simultenously. If the cytology was
abnormal and the biopsy showed LSIL or a less
pathological lesion, the TCT was repeated and a
biopsy was performed 3–6 months later. If the biopsy
showed HSIL, a second LEEP or hysterectomy was
performed. If both the TCT and biopsy were normal,
the patients were followed every 6–12 months
thereafter. This group was named TCT and biopsy group.
3. Twenty-two patients received a secondary LEEP at a
median of 48 days (range 12–120 days) after the
initial one (LEEP group). After the second LEEP, the
patients were regularly followed-up with a TCT and
an HPV test.
4. Sixty-seven patients received hysterectomy at a
median of 33 days (range 8–250 days) after the
initial LEEP (Hysterectomy group) as they had the
following reasons : 1) They feared disease
persistence/recurrence unless the uterus was
removed and they had no reproductive need; 2)
Secondary LEEP was technically impossible; 3) They
experienced difficulties with a regular follow-up. After
the hysterectomy, the patients were followed-up with
the TCT and HPV test to detect vaginal lesions.
During the follow-up period, the cervical cytology
sample, which simultaneously contained both an
ectocervical and an endocervical sample, was obtained with
a disposable ThinPrep® brush (Hologic, Marlborough,
MA, USA). The sample was then fixed in ThinPrep®
PreservCyt® Solution (Hologic, Marlborough, MA, USA).
Cervical samples for the HPV test were collected with the
Digene cervical sampler kit (Digene, Gaithersburg, MD,
USA). The sample was then stored in a tube that contained
Digene Specimen Transport Medium (Digene, Gaithersburg,
MD, USA). An HPV test was performed with the HC2
system. The chemiluminescent reaction was analyzed by a
luminometer and compared with the relative light units of
clinical samples and the positive control containing
1.0 pg/mL. With regard to a relative light unit, a positive
control ratio of 1 or more was considered a positive result.
All samples were analyzed for the presence of the HR-HPV
types (16, 18, 32, 34, 36, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59 and 68).
Colposcopy was performed with 5 % acetic acid and
Lugol’s iodine solution to distinguish cervical lesions
during colposcopically directed biopsies. If no obvious
abnormality was found after staining,biopsies were taken
from 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock positions of the cervix. Along
with biopsy, the ECC specimens were obtained for
histopathological evaluation using an endocervical curette.
A subsequent LEEP was performed with the same
approach as the initial LEEP. Laparoscopic hysterectomy
was performed by experienced chief physicians.
All specimens were evaluated at the Department of
Pathology, Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan
University. A consensus was reached for all specimens
after an independent review of the original diagnoses by
two experienced gynecological pathologists.
Definition of persistence/recurrence
Persistence/recurrence was defined as histopathological
HSIL, which was diagnosed from a biopsy or a
subsequent surgical (including hysterectomy and LEEP)
specimen at any time after the initial LEEP was performed.
HSIL (CIN2/3) was diagnosed based on Pathology and
Genetic of Tumours of the Breast and Female Genital
Organs, World Organization Classification of Tumours
Analysis of the data was performed with IBM© SPSS® 20
software for Windows (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).
Fisher’s exact tests, the t-test, one-way analysis of
variance (ANOVA), and Mann-Whitney tests were utilized
to identify factors that were related to the presence of
persistent/recurrent disease in the univariate analysis.
Fisher’s exact test was used to determine the age group
that was associated with a significantly increased risk of
disease persistence/recurrence. Results were considered
statistically significant if a P < 0.05 was obtained. A
multivariate logistic regression was used to determine
the independent value of the factors found to be
significant in the univariate analysis.
All patients had HSIL-involved margins, and 96.6 % (230/
238) of the primary LEEP HSIL lesions were positive for
high-risk HPV. Based on the first follow-up or treatment,
the patients were divided into four groups. The median
follow-up period was 25 months (range: 6–43 months) for
the entire population. For each group, the follow-up times
were as follows, and no significant differences were
observed between the four groups: ① TCT group: 80–540
days (median: 240); ② TCT and biopsy group: 37–967
days (median: 280); ③ LEEP group: time from initial to
second LEEP: 12–120 days (median: 48), after second
LEEP: 90–974 days, (median: 188) and entire follow-up:
12–1040 days (median: 180); and ④ Hysterectomy group:
time from initial LEEP to hysterectomy: 7–250 days
Table 1 Characteristics of four treatment groups
Median size of LEEP
Thickness (cm, mean)
Depth (cm, mean)
Number of involved margins
Endocervical curettage histopathology
(median: 33), after hysterectomy: 30–900 days (median:
171), entire follow-up: 30–914 days (median: 227).
The patient characteristics are shown in Table 1. The
age of the patients ranged from 21 to 69 (median: 40)
years. The mean age of the patients in the hysterectomy
group was higher than that of patients in the other three
groups (47.9 ± 8.7 vs. 37.2 ± 8.0). Other factors, including
the diameter, depth and thickness of the LEEP specimen
and the number of involved margins, were not different
between the four groups. However, in the hysterectomy
group, more cases had ECC HSIL compared with the
Rate of persistence/recurrence of cervical HSIL
Among the 4336 patients with HSIL, 275 (6.34 %) had
HSIL-involved surgical margins, and 37 were excluded
due to loss of follow-up or rejection of follow-up . Of
the remaining 238 patients with HSIL and HSIL-positive
margins, 211 (88.7 %) remained free of
persistent/recurrent disease, while 27 (11.3 %) had persistent/recurrent
disease. In the TCT group, 4 patients demonstrated
cytology ≥ ASC-US, and 2 of these patients were excluded
due to negative biopsy results. HSIL was confirmed in
two (2/43, 5 %) patients by biopsy; one patient
underwent a second LEEP, and the other patient received a
hysterectomy. In the TCT and biopsy group, 11 patients
demonstrated TCT cytology ≥ ASC-US. The biopsy
results showed 3 patients with cervicitis, 4 with LSIL
and 4 with HSIL (4/106, 4 %). Of the 4 patients with
HSIL, 3 underwent a second LEEP and 1 received a
hysterectomy. In the LEEP group, 7 of the 22 (32 %)
patients were found to have persistence of HSIL
according to the second LEEP specimen. Afterward, recurrence
was not detected in any of these patients. In the
hysterectomy group, 14 of the 67 (21 %) patients were found
to have HSIL persistence according to the hysterectomy
specimen. The persistent/recurrent cases were all
confirmed within 8–127 days, except 2 cases in the TCT +
biopsy group (226 and 522 days).
Factors that influence the persistence/recurrence of HSIL
We tested whether a correlation existed between
persistence/recurrence and various factors. No difference was
noted in the depth and thickness of the LEEP specimens,
the number of involved margins, the location of the
involved margin section, and the pathology of the ECC
(Table 2) between patients with and without persistent/
recurrent HSIL. However, the mean age was significantly
higher in patients with persistence/recurrence (46.44 ±
11.79 years vs. 39.42 ± 8.87 years, P < 0.001).
Furthermore, the mean maximum diameter of the LEEP
specimens was smaller in patients with persistence/
recurrence compared with patients without recurrence
(1.75 ± 0.55 cm vs. 1.93 ± 0.40 cm, P = 0.043).
We further observed the recurrent rate in four age
groups. Figure 1 showed the rate of patients younger
younger than 35 years was the lowest than that of other
groups. In addition, the distributions of age were
Table 2 The influence factors for persistence/recurrence
different in two groups (recurrent vs. non-recurrent),
the median, 25 % percentile and 75 % percentile of age
in the recurrent group were greater than the
nonrecurrent group respectively (Fig. 2). In order to clarify
the relationship between age and recurrence, these
subjects were categorized into two age groups to
differentiate the recurrence rate. The relative risk of the subjects
(greater than or equal to 35 years ages) was 4.6 times of
the subject less than 35 years, the difference was
statistically significant (14 % vs. 3 %, P < 0.05) (Fig. 3).
A multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated
that an age of 35 years or older was the only
independent risk factor (OR 4.97, 95 % CI 1.14–21.62, P = 0.03).
As both a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure, LEEP
provides a conservative approach to treat HSIL,
particularly for women who are young or who desire to
preserve their fertility. However, cervical lesions persist or
recur in a certain portion of patients after LEEP. Positive
margins have been identified as a predictive factor of
disease persistence/recurrence [4, 11, 12, 14]. As few
studies have specifically analyzed the risk of recurrent/
persistent HSIL and its related factors in patients with
HSIL who have HSIL-involved margins, we specifically
investigated the outcome and its related factors in those
patients to determine the reasonable treatment options
1.75 ± 0.55 (1.00 ~ 3.00)
1.93 ± 0.40 (1.00 ~ 3.50)
0.90 ± 0.22 (0.30 ~ 1.80)
0.82 ± 0.23 (0.30 ~ 1.20)
Depth (cm, range)
1.40 ± 0.33 (0.80 ~ 2.00)
1.41 ± 0.31 (0.80 ~ 2.20)
The features of LEEP specimen
Number of involved margin section
Location of involved margin section
Pathology of ECC
Fig. 1 Recurrent rate of patients in four age groups. The rate of patients younger than 35 years was the lowest than that of other groups
for this population. We found that the rate of persistent/
recurrent HSIL was 11.3 % in patients with HSIL with
HSIL-involved resection margins at the initial LEEP, as
well as that age is a strong independent predictor.
In patients with HSIL, the rate of positive margins after
LEEP ranges from 5.7 to 19 % in the literature [18-23]. In
our study, the rate of HSIL margins in patients with HSIL
after LEEP was consistent with that in previously
published reports (6.34 %). However, in some studies, positive
margins are defined as the histological diagnosis of CIN
along the LEEP specimen margin, regardless of the CIN
The range of the rates of persistence/recurrence in
published references varies greatly, which may be
attributed to the different inclusion criteria, definitions of
persistence/recurrence and follow-up times. We compared
our study with other publications that contained this
information as well as predictive factors for persistence/
recurrence (Table 3). Among 6 other studies, cases of
CIN 2/3 with or without positive margins were included
in 5 studies [7, 11, 14, 24-26], whereas cases of CIN1,2
and 3 were included in 1 study . In these studies, the
authors also mentioned the rate of persistence/recurrence
in patients with positive margins, which varied from 14.2
Fig. 2 The distributions of age in two groups (recurrent vs. non-recurrent). The distributions of age were different in two groups (recurrent vs.
non-recurrent), the median, 25 % percentile and 75 % percentile of age in the recurrent group were greater than the non-recurrent group respectively
<35 yrs >34 yrs
Recurrence 2 (3%) 25 (14%)
No Recurrence 60 (97%) 151 (86%)
Total 62 (100%) 176 (100%)
Fig. 3 The recurrent rate in two age groups (<35 vs. >34 years). The relative risk of the subjects (greater than or equal to 35 years ages) was 4.6
times of the subject less than 35 years (14 % vs. 3 %, P < 0.05)
to 60 %. However, the numbers of patients with positive
margins were small (range: 5–71). Furthermore, the
definition of a “positive margin” in 4 studies was the presence
of CIN (regardless of the grade) [7, 11, 25, 26]. In addition,
the definition of recurrence in 4 studies was pathologic
findings of CIN3 while in 2 studies was biopsy confirmed
evidence of CIN of any grade (1,2,3) [7, 11]. In our study,
we found that the persistence/recurrence rate in patients
with HSIL with HSIL margins was 11.3 %, which was
lower than the rates in the other 6 studies. The possible
reason may be our inclusion criteria were critical.
Therefore, it remains to be discussed whether subsequent
surgeries are necessary for patients who have HSIL-involved
In addition, the authors analyzed the predictive factors
in all cases of CIN and found positive margins (3/6
studies), HPV positivity during follow-up (2/6 studies), and
tumor characteristics (e.g., depth, height or size) (2/6
studies) were related to recurrence. However, we
analyzed the predictive factors in a particular group of
patients, namely, those with HSIL and HSIL-involved
margins (238 patients), and found that age and diameter
of the tumor (size) were associated with
persistence/recurrence, while age ≥35 years was the only independent
Increasing age has been identified as a possible
presurgical predictor of persistence/recurrence in some
studies [8, 24, 27]. Our study indicated that in patients with
HSIL who have HSIL margins, an age of 35 years or older
was an independent risk factor for persistent/recurrent
disease. It is still unclear why older women may be more
likely to experience persistence/recurrence. One possible
reason may be altered immunity or positive selection over
time toward viruses with a higher oncogenic risk . In
clinical practice, patients in this age group often desire
fertility or uterus preservation; thus, conservative
management is frequently considered during follow-up. Given the
relatively high risk of persistence/recurrence, patients who
are older than 35 years require close follow-up.
The size of the lesion is also a factor that has been
reported to predict recurrence because it correlates with
the completeness of the excision/ablation . The
maximum diameter of the LEEP specimen is a reflection of
the lesion size. In our study, the maximum diameter was
shown to be statistically significant in a univariate
analysis. Patients who experienced persistence/recurrence
had LEEP specimens with smaller maximum diameters
than patients who were free of disease. However,
maximum tumor diameter was not an independent risk
factor in the multivariate logistic regression. The causes of
this difference may be the variation of cervix sizes.
Some studies indicated that extensive involvement of
the endocervical cone margin  and involvement of
multiple margins after LEEP for CIN 2/3 are strong
predictors of residual disease. In our study, ECC ≥ HSIL
and, multiple involved margin sections were not
associated with persistence/recurrence according to a
univariate analysis. However, it was notable that the rate of
persistence/recurrence was higher in patients with
multiple involved margin sections compared with patients
who had a single involved margin (23.08 % vs. 9.91 %, P =
0.092). Thus,the the significance of involvement of
multiple margin sections needs to be investigated in large
sample size study.
High-risk HPV (HR-HPV) testing is also useful to
predict recurrence. Alonso et al. demonstrated that
HRHPV load (N1000 RLU) prior to LEEP was significantly
associated with a higher risk of recurrence, and the most
No. of cases with positive
margin and its definition
Definition of Persistence/
238 (the presence of HSIL in Histolopathological
the margin) confirmed HSIL
Rate of Persistence
/Recurrence in cases
with positive margin
14 (the presence of CIN
10 (the presence of CIN 1 or pathologic findings of
5 (the presence of CIN 1,2,3) pathology finding of CIN 1 60 % (3/5)
or CIN 2,3
Pap smear or biopsy
confirmed evidence of
CIN of any grade (1,2,3)
biopsy proved CIN 3
Table 3 Rates of persistence/recurrence in patients with positive margin published in literature
Leguevaque P 
Kliemann L M  2012
71 (definition not
26.7 months 21 [the presence of CIN3
was close to (≤1 mm) or
involved the margin]
aThe predictive factors were analyzed based on the whole case sample, not the particular subgroup of cases with positive margins
bAuthors observed residual CIN in 67 of 207 patients who received hysterectomy, but not including those who received other follow-ups
Predict factor of Persistence/Recurrencea
Age and diameter of specimen . in univariate
analysis. Age ≥35 was an independent factor
Persistence of HR-HPV DNAa
Cytological grade, depth of conization, parity
and multi-quadrants of CIN 3 in punch biopsy
were related to increased risk for positive margin a
a positive HR-HPV test at 6 months postoperatively,
positive endocervical margins,positive
pre-treatment HPV typinga
surgical margin positivitya
positive margin, cone height, tumor sizea
the surgical margin statusa
important predictor of recurrence was a positive
HRHPV test at 6 months post-surgery . Another study
demonstrated that a test for HPV DNA conducted
12 months post-therapy was the best predictor of
recurrent or residual disease . Ovestad et al. found that
CIN 2/3 lesions with non-HPV16 HR-HPV infection
may spontaneously regress . Since 2006, the
guidelines of the American Society for Colposcopy and
Cervical Pathology (ASCCP) have included HPV testing for
the management of atypical glandular cytology and for
the follow-up after treatment for cervical intraepithelial
neoplasia. In our study, 96 % of patients were
HR-HPVpositive before the initial LEEP. As we did not perform
HR-HPV testing before the second LEEP and before
hysterectomy in these two groups, we were unable to
compare HPV load before and after the initial LEEP
The treatment options for patients with HSIL and
positive margins depend on different factors. The
ASCCP updated its consensus guidelines in 2013, as
follows: “If CIN2, 3 is identified at the margins of an
excisional procedure or post-procedure ECC, cytology and
ECC at 4–6 month is preferred, but repeat excision is
acceptable and hysterectomy is acceptable if re-excision
is not feasible”. The results presented herein may assist
in the personalization of the choice of procedure for
patients who have HSIL-involved margins after LEEP. It
should be considered that the majority of patients with
HSIL-involved margins remain disease-free throughout
the follow-up period. Therefore, disease management
should be individualized based on desired fertility, age,
patient preference and other factors. If patients choose
to undergo additional treatment, the risk of
complications must be weighed against the desire to eradicate
potential residual disease.
In our study, the rates of HSIL
persistence/recurrence in patients who had a subsequent LEEP and
hysterectomy were 31.82 % (7/22) and 20.90 % (14/67),
respectively, while that in patients who were selected
for close follow-up (TCT or TCT combined with
colposcopic-guided biopsy) was 4.02 % (6/149). The
mean age of the patients who underwent a subsequent
hysterectomy was 47.87 ± 8.71 years, which was
significantly higher than the mean age of patients in the
other three groups. Significantly more patients who were
older than 35 years experienced persistence/recurrence
compared with patients who were younger than 35 years
(14 % vs. 3 %). Thus, we considered that the presence of
HSIL margins is still an important factor associated with
recurrence but that this does not always warrant surgical
retreatment. A closer, strict surveillance after an initial
LEEP is acceptable for younger patients. For patients who
are older than 35 years, a subsequent LEEP or a carefully
decided hysterectomy is reasonable.
In patients with HSIL and HSIL-involved margins after
an initial LEEP, age is a strong independent predictor of
persistence/recurrence. Follow-up with screening cytology
and/or biopsy may be considered in younger patients,
whereas a secondary LEEP/hysterectomy may be
considered in older patients.
One weakness of our study is its retrospective nature
and lack of HPV tests before patients received a direct
second LEEP and hysterectomy, which, therefore, limits
its application. In addition, the follow-up period was
relatively short. The strengths of our study are the large
size of the study population and the extensive
investigation of preoperative variables. We are currently in the
process of developing a prospective study to confirm or
refute our results.
HSIL: High-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion; LEEP: Loop electrosurgical
excision procedure; LSIL: Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion;
CIN: Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; ECC: Endocervical curettage;
HPV: Human papilloma virus; OR: Odd ratio; CI: Confidence interval;
ASCCP: American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
MZ collected the data, did the data analysis and wrote the manuscript.YH is
a statistician and analyzed the data. JB reviewed the data and revised the
manuscript. XZ and YQ reviewed the pathology reports. LS did part of the
surgeries as well as the quality control of the surgical procedure and revised
the manuscript. WF designed the study, analyzed the data and wrote the
manuscript. QW did the surgeries and designed the study. All authors have
read and approved the final manuscript.
This study was supported by a research funding from the National Natural
Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81272877) to Dr. Long Sui.
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