15 February 2009

Open Wide and Say "Aaaahh"

I am under no illusions about the advantages of being male. Or, to be more precise, the inconveniences of being female. One of those inconveniences has to be the annual gynecological exam. Thanks to advances in medical research, the gynecological exam of the future may be a little less inconvenient.

Guided Therapeutics is developing a cervical cancer detection test designed to replace the pap smear. It works by shining a light on tissue and then analyzing how the light reflects back. No, I am not making this up. It's that simple.

The theory is that diseased tissue is different from normal tissue and one of the differences is how is reflects back light. If the technology proves to be reliable, it could not only make examinations quicker and easier but also less costly. From the product page:

A pre-pivotal clinical study of LightTouch™, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute indicated that the non-invasive test could reduce by 55% the number of unnecessary follow-up procedures as a result of false positive Pap test results. The potential savings to the U.S. healthcare system could be as high as $181 million annually if the technology is widely adopted.

This is just one small example of why investment in science education is important. Good schools produce good scientists and good scientists make the world better. To illustrate this point, consider that my idea of how to replace the pap smear was to use dogs that can detect chemical signals, like the ones that can predict seizures or detect cancer by smelling urine.

I don't know how many women would choose a crotch-sniffing mutt over a pap smear but I'm confident a flashlight would beat both.

Now if this company would set its sights on the dreaded "Dr. Jellyfinger" portion of the male medical checkup, that would be great, too.


TD said...

I already had my comment all written in my mind before I got to the last sentence, but you beat me to it. Those yearly exams aren't a treat for women OR men... and I'd have a hard time deciding which was worse!

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, my dentist also offers that with oral cancers, since they're often caused by HPV, the same virus that causes some cervical cancers. Pretty cool.

Kate The Great said...

Can you please just make sure the "flashlight" has a warming function? A cold speculum is one of the most uncomfortable things ever. I'm just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

It hurts. Trust me. Open wide and say, Ouch.

Happy Monday.

liz said...

a dog sniffing my crotch seems like the best option here. that scares me. also, this blog scares me.