Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common form of cancer in women, with more than 500,000 new cases annually worldwide. India reports approximately one-fourth of the world’s cases of cervical cancer each year.
In an attempt to raise awareness and break misconceptions about cervical cancer, an Indian-American professor and her team have developed a new handheld, low-cost device that is designed to check for cervical cancer.
This comes as a pathbreaking technology, because it replaces the use of a painful speculum (a metal device designed to spread the vaginal walls apart). This device has been named the “pocket colposcope.”
This team of researchers at Duke University in North Carolina led by Nimmi Ramanujam say the “pocket colposcope” can connect to a laptop or mobile phone and could even lead to women being able to self-screen cervical cancer. This “all-in-one device” looks similar to a pocket-sized tampon.
The team requested 15 volunteers to try the new integrated design. More than 80 per cent women said they were able to get a good image.
In a New Indian Express report, Nimmi Ramanujan said, “The mortality rate of cervical cancer should absolutely be zero per cent because we have all the tools to see and treat it. But it isn’t. That is in part because women do not receive screening or do not follow up on a positive screening to have colposcopy performed at a referral clinic. We need to bring colposcopy to women so that we can reduce this complicated string of actions into a single touch point.”
As per the current standard practices for cervical cancer screening, a speculum, a colposcope (a magnified telescopic device and camera designed to enable medical professionals to see the cervix), as well as a highly trained professional are required to administer the test.
This device has been developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health. It is designed with lights and a camera at one end, and also includes an inserter through which the colposcope can be inserted to make the entire procedure speculum free.
The team has applied for additional funding from the NIH to continue the efforts and is working on regulatory clearance for the device, which they are hopeful of receiving by the end of 2017.