A low cost cervical cancer test, vastly more accurate than the present smear test, can save thousands of women every year, researchers say.
The test also delivers results overnight, and can spot early signs of the disease.
Cervical cancer is the second most common form of cancer among young women. There are around 3,000 new cases a year in Britain alone. But it is often diagnosed late, so survival rates are far lower than other cancers.
Thomas Wright, from Columbia University in New York who conducted the study, said: "Up to a third of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have normal smear tests. We think this new test would detect cancers in the vast majority of women."
Researchers claim that the smear test misses up to a third of all cervical cancer cases - but the new method picks up almost all of them, reports the Daily Mail .
Unlike the smear, which checks for abnormal cells, the newly-developed Cobas test is able to detect the Human Papilloma Virus, which triggers the abnormal cell growth, according to a Columbia statement.
Women would be able to find out their results the very next day. The traditional smear can take as long as five weeks to be analysed.