Detecting cervical cancer in women is set to get quicker, cheaper and more accurate, as scientists have made a 15-pound test that could save thousands of lives.
The test delivers overnight results and is vastly more accurate than the smear test, which is currently used to spot early signs of the disease, according to researchers.
AdvertisementIt will cost only 15 pounds a time and could be available in GP surgeries within 12 months.
Another benefit of the new test is that patients may need to be screened only every five years, rather than every three.
Unlike the smear, which checks for abnormal cells, this latest test, known as the Cobas test, is able to detect the Human Papilloma Virus, which triggers the abnormal cell growth.
As a result, researchers said it picks up cancers much earlier on and is also far more reliable.
Women would be able to find out their results the very next day. The traditional smear can take as long as five weeks to be analysed.
The Cobas test developed by drugs company Roche is similar to a smear test in that it analyses a small sample of cells taken from a woman's cervix.
Early trials by British and U.S. researchers on 47,000 women over the age of 30 found that it picked up HPV in at least one in ten patients who had been given the all clear following a smear test.
"Up to a third of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have normal smear tests," the Daily Mail quoted Thomas Wright, from Columbia University, which carried out the study, as saying.
Henry Scowcroft, of Cancer Research UK, said: "This new trial confirms what was already known about this test's promise, but there's still more work to be done to answer the remaining questions surrounding its use in practice.
"If the NHS decided to change from the current cervical screening test to this newer method, there would likely be no going back. So there needs to be hard evidence that the HPV test would improve the screening programme."