‘Easy’ smear tester unveiled

New hand-held device gives results in a couple of minutes, and doesn't require a sample of cells

A hand-held device that can give smear results within minutes without needing a cell sample, could revolutionise smear tests.

The APX, which looks like a remote control with a probe on the end, works by sending a mild electric current into the cervix, and monitoring how this passes through cells.

Cells showing the pre-cancerous changes that a smear test looks out for provide a different response to healthy cells, and the monitor can report any problems within minutes.

The traditional smear test, which tests for warning signs of cervical cancer, involves brushing cells from the cervix in a procedure that some women find uncomfortable, and sending these to be analysed. Results take four weeks or more.

The APX, which a doctor places inside the vagina until it touches the cervix, then presses a button, is said to be completely painless.

Women over 25 are invited for a smear test every three to five years, reports the Mail. The number of women having tests has increased dramatically since Jade Goody died from cervical cancer earlier this year.

The APX, which was developed by Sheffield University, is being fine-tuned and tested.

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