Following the news that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have approved the use of new cervical cancer diagnostic screening systems, UK cervical cancer expert, Miss Adeola Olaitan, explains that the new diagnostic tests (DySIS and Niris), "...have the potential to increase the accuracy of colposcopy and thus improve the ability of the screening system to detect abnormal pre-cancerous cells on the cervix. These cells, if detected, can be treated with a simple outpatient procedure and this reduces the risk of cervical cancer developing in future".
Miss Olaitan goes on to say that "...this technology is new and is not yet widely available in colposcopy clinics. However, women can be reassured that the current system of colposcopy is very good and has quality assurance built in. However, as NICE has approved these technologies, it is likely that more clinics will invest in them". Miss Olaitan goes on to stress that "...it is important that women attend for their screening smears when invited as this is the single most inportant factor in reducing the risk of cervical cancer. The majority of women will have normal smears. The small minority who have abnormal smears are referred for colposcopy where further tests are carried out".
The new tests aim to improve the diagnostic accuracy of the selection of patients for biopsy or treatment. They also aid in the selection of biopsy sites. Through the use of integrated digital image analysing (optical) system combined with a colposcope, the rate, extent and duration of disease can be evaluated. The test carried out during colposcopy to indicate the presence, or otherwise, of changes to the cells of the cervix is termed 'acetowhitening'. The new system produces a dynamic map which can be overlaid on a colour image of the tissue to help the clinician determine the presence and grade of any lesion.
The new tests are designed to aid in the detection and diagnosis of disease in their earliest stages. The manufacturers of the Niris Imaging System say that use of "...optical coherence tomography as an adjunct to a standard colposcope..." means that it has the "...ability to provide an optical biopsy by visualising tissue microstructure to a depth of 1.6 mm".