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New Device Could Mean End of Pap Smear

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According to the website, Gizmag, a new cervical cancer screening device is currently being tested in Europe; this could mean the end of the traditional, and often very uncomfortable pap smear. This invention, manufactured by Zilico, consists of a portable, handheld device and a base unit, and can give the results of the test in minutes, and not in two or three weeks, which is the norm with the pap smears.

According to Zilico, this device is safe, accurate and totally painless. It has a pencil-shaped probe that is covered in a “single-use sterile disposable sheath,” according to Gizmag writer Jude Garvey. He goes on to say, that once the surface of the cervix is reached, the health care professional presses a button on the handset. This pressing generates a mild electrical current which is instantly analyzed to see how it passes through the cervical cells. Pre-cancerous cells conducts electricity at a different rate than healthy cells do.

The system employs a technique called electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). This technique ultimately produces a spectrum that shows cell changes and abnormalities. The handheld device is linked to a computer program that will highlight areas with pre-cancerous cells. Now this is high technology that is very impressive.

Zilico (a medical diagnostics company) began the European trial in April of this year, and has plans of testing about 600 women. The CEO of Zilico, Sameer Kothari, said,”Our most recent published data has given us the confidence that the device is accurately measuring the true state of the underlying tissue of the cervix. This trial will further underwrite this.”

Sadly, cervical cancer does kill thousands of women each year. The major cause of this disease is the virus human papilloma virus (HPV).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that in 2005 almost 12,000 women in the U.S. were informed that they had cervical cancer, and nearly 4,000 women died from this disease. What is the monetary cost of treating cervical in the U.S. every year? According to Gizmag, it amounts to $2 billion.

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