Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial to test a new way of looking at cervical smear tests (MAVARIC)
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This trial tested a new way of looking at cell samples (cytology) taken during a smear test. It was called MAVARIC, which stands for Manual Assessment Versus Automated Reading In Cytology. A cervical smear test can pick up abnormal cells on the cervix. As these cells are pre cancerous, the treatment you have can prevent cervical cancer. When you have a smear test, the doctor or nurse takes a sample of cells from your cervix. They then transfer these cells into a small container of liquid, and send them to the laboratory. In the laboratory, trained technicians look at the cells on a slide under a microscope.
This trial was testing a new, computer guided method of looking at the cells. The new technology highlighted the most abnormal area of the slide, so it could be examined more closely.
The researchers wanted to compare the way trained technicians looked at the cells with the new computer guided method to see which was the most accurate at finding abnormal cells.
Summary of results
The trial team found that the computer guided method was not better than the trained technicians at looking for abnormal cervical cells.
Of the 73,266 cervical tissue samples looked at in this trial, 48,578 were looked at using the new computer guided method and by the trained technicians. Trained technicians only looked at the remaining 24,688.
The computer guided method was less accurate at finding abnormal cells in tissue samples than the trained technicians.
The trial team concluded that the computer guided method for finding abnormal cervical cells was not as good as trained technicians.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Henry Kitchener
National Health Service (NHS)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)