Globally, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women. There is a great need for more effective, affordable screening technologies to improve how we treat and manage patients with this disease – particularly in the developing world.

Current Standards for Cervical Cancer Screening

Currently, cervical cancer involves the detection procedure known as the Pap Smear. An abnormal Pap Smear is followed by an exam with a colposcope. Pap Smears involve collecting cells from the cervix with a wooden or plastic spatula and brush, then examining these cells on glass slides. A colposcope uses a magnifying lens to view the cervix under white and green light after a mild vinegar solution is applied. If abnormal spots are seen, a biopsy is performed.

The Current Study

A new cervical cancer detection method that uses a combination of optical screening devices is currently being tested (learn more by clicking here or by selecting the ‘About the Digital Colposcope’ tab above). This work is funded by a US National Institutes of Health grant. Testing is taking place at the BC Cancer Agency (VGH site). This new technology was developed by Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum (Rice University) and Dr. Calum MacAulay (BC Cancer Agency) in collaboration with Dr. Michele Follen (Brookdale University Hospital). Several investigators for this trial are associated with the VGH Colposcopy Clinic (please select the ‘Study Investigators’ tab above for a list of who is involved). More than 600 women from British Columbia will take part in this trial – your interest and participation is greatly appreciated!
If the new optical technology being tested proves effective, it could end up being used by all doctors, meaning the results would be known at the time of the clinic visit (i.e. in ‘real-time’). This would improve how patients are diagnosed and how their treatment is managed.
The Digital Colposcopy Trial

Testing a tool for cervical cancer screening in British Columbia