Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cheap Way To Screen for Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of women cancer deaths in developing countries where health care resources are lacking and not adequate, particularly in the poor rural regions.

A cheap screening method is helping to detect for early signs of cervical cancer. It requires a swab of vinegar (with 3 to 5 percent acetic acid) on the cervix and after three to five minutes if any area turns white, it is a sign of a pre-cancerous or cancerous lesion. A lesion is known to have more DNA, and thus consists more protein compared to other tissues. Acetic acid coagulates with the protein which results in a whitish appearance. Any detection of an abnormal lesion will be frozen and destroyed using cryotherapy, or cold therapy, which utilises a metal rod cooled by a tank of carbon dioxide.

This test is also called visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), and it was developed by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine based on a well-known procedure among gynecologists in the United States, in which vinegar is used to confirm a positive Pap (Papanicolaou) smear. It has been introduced in pilot projects in more than 20 nations such as Peru, India, Philippines and Thailand.

Cervical cancer is cancer at the neck of the womb called the cervix. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a group of over 100 different types of viruses, and some are known to infect the cells in cervix, leading to cancerous growth. Cervical cancer in its early days does not cause any symptoms. In later stages symptoms are unusual pelvic pain, pain while urinating or abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Benefits of The VIA Screening

Just regular table vinegar is needed for VIA, which makes it a truly inexpensive screening procedure.

A 1999 field study in Zimbabwe comparing the vinegar test method with a Pap smear found that the acid test detected more lesions though at the same time it was also more prone to false positives. However it is still proving to be an effective and safe alternative to the more expensive Pap smear for screening early signs of cervical cancer. It can help the health care personnel make an instant decision as to whether a person needs further treatment.

Both the VIA screening and cold treatment can be performed on the same visit, unlike a Pap smear where you have to go back home and wait for lab results to come back before you visit your doctor a second time to hear the outcome. The VIA procedure can be carried out by a nurse or a medical worker after three to four days of training.


  1. Thanks for this great information. I searched other blogs like delsublog but could not find a solution.

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