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Indian doctors develop low-cost screening for cervical cancer

Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), a premier cancer treatment institute in the country recently announced that its researchers have found an inexpensive way to screen for cervical cancer and this can prevent 72,600 deaths worldwide each year. The procedure, involving use of vinegar, curbed the deaths caused by the cancer by 31 percent in a group of 1.5 lakh women, it said.

Cancer of the uterine cervix is the most common cancer affecting Indian women with an estimated 142,000 new cases coming to light every year and 77,000 women dying of the disease, a TMC spokesperson said in Mumbai last Monday.

In India, a national population-based Pap smear screening programme is difficult to implement because of logistic problems related to need for laboratory facilities and expert cytologists.

According to the spokesperson, “ visual inspection of the cervix after application of 4 per cent acetic acid (VIA) is a low-cost alternative.” However, efficacy of  this VIA test needed to be determined. Tata Memorial Centre embarked on this research with funds provided by National Cancer Institute, USA, supplemented by TMC and Women’s Cancer Initiative, Mumbai.

According to TMC, results showed that VIA screening is safe, feasible and “acceptable to Indian women”, as there was an “overwhelming participation”. To read more on the study click here.

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