6/05/02 - A New Cervical Cancer Test

Doctors across the country are taking a look at a new test for cervical cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

Like many women, when it comes to her health 31-year old Shelly Schwartz is looking for almost instant peace of mind. "Anything where you can get the result right then and there and know that it's not being mixed up with someone else's," Shelly says. Shelly and almost 300 other patients of Dr. Gerard Pregenza have opted for Pap-Sure, a new test for cervical cancer. Dr. Pregenza says, "Basically we take this little device and place it at the top of the speculum." Then the doctor performs a routine pap smear, a scrapping of the top layer of cervical cells. What's new is what comes next. "We take a little swab with the vinegar, the acidic acid and we apply it to the cervix," Dr. Pregenza says. Let it sit for a few seconds and then look inside using magnification and a blue light. Any potentially cancerous cells will appear white almost immediately

"We had an individual who ad an abnormal speculopothy and the pap smear came back negative," Dr. Pregenza says. In fact, that has happened four times to Dr. Pregenza and that's why he thinks this new test is so important. According to its manufacturer, it almost doubles the detection rate of just a pap smear and it can help a doctor "see" more than just the surface of the cervix. Dr. Pregenza says, "Sometimes a lesion is under the skin and you may not pick it up at all with a traditional pap smear." Doctors tell Shelley, "Your's is negative which means we have a 99.4 % chance that everything is negative and that's incredibly high." For Shelly, it's that instant peace of mind.

There are not that many doctors trained to do the 5-minute test yet and the Pap-Sure system is not yet covered by most insurances. It costs between 20 to 40 dollars.