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Computerised smears get better results

A new computerised test for cervical cancer detects more abnormalities than traditional smears, say researchers.

The digital test may also result in fewer women needing to be retested.

Conventional smears are made by transferring material taken from the cervix directly onto a glass slide.

Scientists say a new liquid-based cytology (LBC) technique, together with a computerised reading system, can detect 1.3 more cases of high-grade cervical abnormalities than conventional smears.

Elizabeth Davey and colleagues from the University of Sydney took cervical samples from 55,164 women.

Using the computerised technique, fewer slides gave unsatisfactory results, at 1.7% compared with 3.1% using conventional smears.

Davey says this will mean fewer women are recalled for repeat tests and women will not have to wait as long for test results.

She concludes that introducing their computerised technique into population screening programmes would increase detection rates to 9 cases in every 1,000 women screened.

University of Sydney