Quicker method for spotting cervical cancer

Scientists developed an easy and fast method to detect cervical cancer cells that especially can be adopted in developing countries. Using the lab facilities available in an Indian hospital, the researchers around Dr Nick Coleman of the Medical Research Council´s Cancer Cell Unit, compared a new cell staining technique to the standard slide searching method.

Photo: Quicker method for spotting cervical cancer
The researchers found out that not only was the colour staining method five times faster, but the scientists agreed 100 percent with the results. It took only two minutes for testers to find rogue cancer cells when the stain pinpointed them. In comparison, it took up to tehn minutes to search for oddly shaped cells using the standard “pap” method and tester only shared the same results in 85 percent.
Furthermore, reading a “pap” smear test is a highly skilled task. To look down a microscope lens at a slide smeared with cells scraped from a woman´s cervix and find the few that differ in shape to their neighbours requires years of training. Afterwards, it can be difficult to keep people in post in countries like India. This lack of experts combined with often insufficient lab facilities can make reading test results difficult in developing countries.
The team of researchers hope that by making smear tests easier to read more woman will have access to screening and, as long as treatment can be given to them, fewer women will die from what in the developed world is a preventable disease.
The team collaborated with doctors and laboratory technicians working at Kidwai Memorial Hospital of Oncology in Bangalore, India. The work was founded by both the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.
Original research paper: MCM immunocytochemistry as a first line screening test in developing countries: a prospective cohort study in a regional cancer center in Indio published in April 2007 edition of the British Journal of Cancer


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