Glossary of terms

Population-based screening is conducted according to nationally or regionally implemented guidelines defining who should be invited, how frequently they should be screened, and how any abnormalities detected should be followed up and treated. The screening programme identifies each individual to be personally invited from a population register.

Target population includes all resident women in the age groups targeted by the screening programme at a certain point in time, here defined as the last day of a specified year. This is not the same as the number of women to be invited in specified year, which is a subset of the total target population and depends on eligibility criteria and invitation policy (e.g. by birth year, or time since previous test).

Test coverage is the proportion of women in a target population tested in an interval, calculated as “N women in target population with at least one test in interval / N women in target population”. This may be calculated for specified intervals and age groups.

Test capacity is a measure of the volume of testing in relation to a screening policy, calculated as “N tests in interval and target population / N women in target population”. This may be calculated for specified intervals and age groups.

Overscreening index is a measure of the intensity of testing in relation to a screening policy, calculated as “N tests in interval / N tested women in interval and population” OR “N primary screening tests in interval and population / N (primary) tested women in interval and population” (EU-QA). This may be calculated for specified intervals and age groups.

Follow-up time refers to the time frame during which the test is performed or not. 1 year follow up time means that the test is done within the calendar year chosen. Other follow-up times allow for test date variation of 6 months (e.g. 2.5 year follow-up time in year 2014 means that the test is performed after 1 July 2012.)

Follow-up testing rate is the proportion of screened women routed to intensified screening, defined as “N women advised to repeat a screening test within a shorter interval / N women (primary) screened”. This may be calculated for specified age groups.

Referral rate is the proportion of screened women referred for diagnostic confirmation, calculated as “N women referred for colposcopy (and biopsy) / N women (primary) screened”. This may be calculated for specified age groups.

Compliance to follow-up testing is calculated as “N women follow-up-tested within 24 months of the recommendation / N women recommended for follow-up testing”. This can only be calculated for years with two subsequent calendar years of test data available and may also be calculated for specified age groups.

Compliance to referral is calculated as “N women with colposcopy within 12 months of referral / N women referred for diagnostic confirmation”. This can only be calculated for years with a subsequent calendar year of test data available and may also be calculated for specified age groups.

Screening test for cervical cancer is either a Pap smear test or HPV (human papillome virus) test. The Pap test, which is more commonly used, is for finding abnormal cells on the cervix whereas HPV test is used for finding a HPV infection.

Primary screening test is the first screening test in the screening episode, prompted in principle by an invitation to screen, or opportunistically in the intention to screen without a clinical indication. Operationally (and pragmatically) it can be defined as a test in a woman with no abnormal tests, no biopsies, and no cervical treatments in the previous 24 months.

Test date refers to the sampling date. If the sampling date is missing, the following chronological hierarchy is used for approximation according to availability: date of receipt in laboratory, date of analysis, date of reporting, date of registration in the screening register.