Smarter Pap Smears

The pap smear revolutionized the way women are tested for cervical cancer, but the test is less than perfect. In some studies false-negatives have run as high as 50 percent. Doctors have boosted the test’s accuracy with some high-tech help.

Critical care nurse Yvonne knows how devastating cancer can be. Not only does she witness it at work, Yvonne lives with the knowledge that she’s at risk of getting the disease.

“I have a long family history of cancer of ovary, breast, lung. I have yearly checkups and I always keep my own information”, she said.

This year’s checkup included a regular pap smear that got special treatment from two new devices; Papnet and Autopap. Papnet seeks out suspicious looking cells.

“They’ve actually trained the computer to look for these cells and to do the best job that it can.”

Papnet produces 128 highlighted images from each slide. The device also tells the pathologist where to find specific cells on a slide and magnifies them for a closer look.

Autopap detects cervical cancer cells in a different way. It scans slides, analyzes the cells, then tells the technician if the cells look suspicious. In test runs, Autopap detected abnormal cells in 75 percent of the slides that were previously called normal.

Papnet helped technicians track down abnormal cells on Yvonne’s pap smear. Neither device will replace the need for technicians, but they will help give women like Yvonne more accurate, lifesaving results.

The Autopap system is available at 12 sites across the country. Meanwhile, PapNet received FDA approval and is available worldwide.

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