The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has approved a new colposcopy system which is reported to be less costly and more effective than the current one.
The new system increases the chance of identifying abnormal cervical cells that require treatment from 50% to 88%.
The system is performed in exactly the same way as a standard colposcopy examination. A speculum is used to provide a clear view of the cervix which is examined with DySIS using a range of magnifications and optical filters.
The clinician applies an acetic acid to the cervix which will turn abnormal areas such as CIN to white. The system measures the aceto-whitening across the whole of the cervix and helps the clinician build an accurate summary of the information in the form of a map. The clinician will use this map together with other information learned to form an impression of any abnormalities and whether a biopsy is required or not.
Around 142,000 women have a colposcopy procedure every year and has been criticised by some doctors as not being effective enough.
Around 2,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and it causes 900 deaths annually. Cancer Research UK has estimated that the NHS cervical screening programme saves 4,500 people annually.
Robert Music, director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “If the process of looking for cervical abnormalities is made more sensitive, this could reduce the number of additional treatments for the patient which are known to cause stress and anxiety.”
The new test should mean that abnormal cells are found earlier and can be treated more easily and more cheaply.