It's a beam of light that can tell a woman if she has cervical cancer within a minute. Doctors say a new tool could boost the cure rate for the nearly half a million women diagnosed every year.
Mom Gail Soares named her 20-month-old after the archangel Gabriel, but the news doctors delivered crushed her new mother glow.
"And all of a sudden that crashes when you go to your first doctor's appointment, and they say you have abnormal cells,” said Soares.
Gail had cervical cancer. More than 11-thousand women were diagnosed last year alone, with more than four-thousand deaths.
Doctors say the light touch machine could curb those numbers. It detects possible cancer cells by analyzing light reflected from the cervix and provides results on the spot. And while typical pap smear tests take two-to-three weeks in a lab, the light touch takes about one minute.
"Once we screen the patient, we can see the same image here as on the monitor," said Doctor Nahida Chakhtoura.
"If you could find out right away, without all that uncomfortableness, I think more women would go out and get that test," said Soares.
To save her life, Gail gave birth to Gabriel early then had a hysterectomy.
She said, "You know, if I never found out I was pregnant, then I would've never found out I had the cancer, and he wouldn't be here right now."
She's now in remission.
The light touch machine has just completed the third and final phase of clinical trials. Previous studies have shown the machine could reduce the number of unnecessary follow-up procedures due to false-positive pap tests by up to 55-percent. That translates to a potential 181-million dollar per-year savings to the U.S. health care system.
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