Review: Optical Micrometer Resolution Scanning for Non-invasive Grading of Precancer in the Human Uterine Cervix

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Management of cervical precancer is archetypal for other cancer prevention programmes but has to consider diagnostic and logistic challenges. Numerous optical tools are emerging for non-destructive near real-time early diagnosis of precancerous lesions of the cervix. Non-destructive, real-time imaging modalities have reached pre-commercial status, but high resolution mapping tools are not yet introduced in clinical settings. The NCBI PubMed web page was searched using the keywords ‘CIN diagnosis’ and the combinations of ‘cervix {confocal, optical coherence tomography, ftir, infrared, Raman, vibrational, spectroscopy}’. Suitable titles were identified and their relevant references followed. Challenges in precancer management are discussed. The following tools capable of non-destructive high resolution mapping in a clinical environment were selected: confocal microscopy, optical coherence tomography, IR spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy. Findings on the clinical performance of these techniques are put into context in order to assist the reader in judging the likely performance of these methods as diagnostic tools. Rationale for carrying out research under the prospect of the HPV vaccine is given.

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