Hi-tech device ‘will improve cancer detection’

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WOMEN in Yorkshire will be the first in the country to benefit from a pioneering approach devised by experts in the region to improve the detection of the early signs of a common cancer.

Hospital staff in Sheffield have successfully tested a device which can measure and detect tissue changes in women with an abnormal smear test.

It offers more accurate detection of pre-cancerous abnormalities of the cervix than standard examinations, allowing doctors to make better informed decisions on a patient’s first visit.

Experts say it means appropriate treatment can be started quickly, or patients can be swiftly reassured if analysis shows nothing of concern. It also reduces unnecessary tissue biopsies.

The technology behind the system was jointly developed by specialists at Sheffield University and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in a collaboration between medical physicist Prof Brian Brown and Prof John Tidy, a consultant gynaecological cancer specialist at the city’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

Prof Tidy said: “The new system enables clinicians to make a faster diagnosis, which in turn enables patients to begin treatment or be offered reassurance if the test comes back clear.”

In an evaluation of 400 women referred for checks at the hospital, the ZedScan device was found to improve the detection of disease.

Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive at the NHS trust, said: “We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of healthcare innovation and this news reinforces our status as pioneers in new medical technology. The ZedScan system has the potential to further improve diagnosis and care for patients within the cervical cancer pathway – and I’m delighted it has been developed and adopted here in Sheffield first.”

Figures show there are 3,000 cases a year in the UK of cervical cancer, with rates highest in the north of England and Scotland.

The illness claims the lives of more than 900 women annually.