talkhealth meets... Amanda Caley and Grace Miller from Zilico
Cancer Research UK says that since the early 1990s, cervical cancer incidence rates have decreased by a quarter in females in the UK. This is due to technical advancements including new technologies and the HPV vaccine.
That said, it's thought that around nine women still die from cervical cancer every day, highlighting the importance of getting checked as soon as symptoms show.
Amanda and Grace from Zilico hosted a webinar to help you boost your cervical cancer knowledge and encourage you to go for regular screenings. Before the webinar, the talkhealth team sat down with them to learn more about their work…
What do you do at Zilico?
I have worked for Zillico for four years now, and Gracie has joined us more recently. In a nutshell, we support the use of adjunct technology for colposcopy. By working with Zilico’s ZedScan, we can run more tests on cells when people are positive for HPV, to prevent cervical cancer. And, we are also making sure that people who can be discharged are discharged safely with the assurance that they are healthy.
How does ZedScan work?
The machine adds another layer of technology to the diagnostic pathway, increasing the probability of spotting abnormal cells in cervical screening.
The ZedScanner picks up how quickly electricity passes through tissues. Healthy tissue is uniform, and the size of the space between the cells is the same, so the structure is really strong.
When cells are abnormal, they morph into a jelly shape and the spaces around them change, all of those things change how easy it is for electricity to pass through the cells. Resistance drops when someone has unhealthy cells.
We have mapped out what each tissue change looks like, and we can compare individual scans of each patient to determine whether they have abnormal cervical cells.
How have cervical screenings changed over the years?
The smear changed to make sure that we are giving women the best chance of survival. We know that 99% of cervical cancers occur when there is an HPV presence. So, it makes sense to have a formalised structure where women who have HPV are called in for checks and, more often than not, referred to colposcopy. Before, all women were screened, more frequently, which put them through more discomfort and cost the NHS more.
What if I don’t have HPV?
People without HPV are not dropped from the system, they should still get screened every five years. This means services can focus more on the people that need their help, and patients are being screened for the right reasons.
Even if you are exposed to HPV a week after your initial screening we know that if we see you within five years we are still able to catch abnormal cells early due to the nature of the disease.
Do I still need to be screened if I have my jab against HPV?
If Covid-19 taught us anything, it’s that vaccines aren’t the golden bullet for everything. Even if you have had the vaccine, it is still important that you go and get screened as you may still have been exposed, and have the virus. There has been a miscommunication around this, perhaps due to the advertising that was rolled out when the vaccines started.
What about older women, who haven’t been vaccinated?
Lots of the older generation are confused as to why they might be called for a screening appointment. She may be thinking: ‘I’ve only had one partner, and haven’t had any problems, why am I being called in?’
It’s equally as important for these women to get tested for HPV because the virus can lay dormant and rear its head if your immune system is weaker. Then, it can cause cervical cancer.
Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.
Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 25 January 2023
Next review: 25 January 2026