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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 842037, 12 pages
Review Article

Screening for Cervical Cancer Using Automated Analysis of PAP-Smears

Division of Visual Information and Interaction, Department of Information Technology, Centre for Image Analysis, Uppsala University, Box 337, 751 05 Uppsala, Sweden

Received 20 December 2013; Accepted 16 February 2014; Published 20 March 2014

Academic Editor: Rong Chen

Copyright © 2014 Ewert Bengtsson and Patrik Malm. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cervical cancer is one of the most deadly and common forms of cancer among women if no action is taken to prevent it, yet it is preventable through a simple screening test, the so-called PAP-smear. This is the most effective cancer prevention measure developed so far. But the visual examination of the smears is time consuming and expensive and there have been numerous attempts at automating the analysis ever since the test was introduced more than 60 years ago. The first commercial systems for automated analysis of the cell samples appeared around the turn of the millennium but they have had limited impact on the screening costs. In this paper we examine the key issues that need to be addressed when an automated analysis system is developed and discuss how these challenges have been met over the years. The lessons learned may be useful in the efforts to create a cost-effective screening system that could make affordable screening for cervical cancer available for all women globally, thus preventing most of the quarter million annual unnecessary deaths still caused by this disease.