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This pocket-sized device could put an end to pap smears.

A group of researchers have created a new device that’s portable, pocket-sized and might spell the end of painful pap smears for good.

The “pocket colposcope” is a slender wand that, according to its creators from Duke University in North Carolina, could do away with the much-loathed plastic speculum used while screening women for signs of cervical cancer.

ENOUGH. Source: HBO/Girls

At present, cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer for women worldwide, although in Australia it sits at around number 14.

Here at least, new scientific developments have made the need for pap smears less frequent and somewhat more comfortable, but they are still recommended at least once every five years and must be administered by a doctor or nurse.

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They also require a speculum be inserted into the vagina to hold open its walls while cells are collected from the cervix for testing.

If abnormalities are detected a colposcopy may then be performed by a specialist using a microscope with a light and camera known as a colposcope.

The team at Duke believe that their new prototype, a miniature colposcope that can be plugged into other devices including laptops or smart phones, will streamline this process.

If becomes widely adopted, they say it may even eventually lead to women self-screening, which would make a huge difference to screening and cure rates in low-income countries and regions of the West, where cervical cancer rates are highest.

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"The mortality rate of cervical cancer should absolutely be zero per cent because we have all the tools to see and treat it," said Nimmi Ramanujam, a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke on the University's blog.

“But it isn’t. That is in part because women do not receive screening or do not follow up on a positive screening to have colposcopy performed at a referral clinic.

"We need to bring colposcopy to women so that we can reduce this complicated string of actions into a single touch point.”

Clinical trials are currently underway to see how the new design stacks up to traditional methods, you can read more about it here.