A new study published in The Lancet medical journal finds a simple and cheap cervical cancer test.
The test uses common household items: vinegar, cotton gauze and a halogen light. The simple test can be preformed by a nurse or a trained practitioner. And it can save millions of women, particularly in the poor countries where existing tests like PAP smears are to expensive for the vast majority of the population.
The study was conducted in India where researchers screen almost 50,000 women. In the study, the simple test had a dramatic impact cutting cervical cancer cases by 25 percent and the cervical cancer death rate by 35 percent.
“Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women in many developing countries, where 85% of the estimated 493,000 new cases and 273,000 deaths worldwide occur. Visual inspection using acetic acid (VIA) is an effective method of screening for cervical cancer, and could prevent many cases of the disease in developing countries.” concludes the study authors in the Lancet. For acetic acid read vinegar.
Experts also suggest in comments on the article published in The Lancet that the test can be improved with Lugol’s iodine staining. Lugol’s iodine was first made in 1829, is commonly available and is often used as an antiseptic and disinfectant, and for emergency disinfection of drinking water
The new test also further calls into question the rush to the new, potentially dangerous, and very expensive HPV vaccines that have stirred widespread controversy over the last two years. Many health professionals have questioned the extensive drug industry backed lobbying efforts to mandate the sparsely tested new vaccine. Especially since the PAP smear has healped signficantly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer since it’s widespread use. Experts have also questioned the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, as reports of severe reactions have begun to surface over the last year.
The new test involves simple swabbing of the cervix with vinegar. The cervix is held open with a speculum and simply swabbed with cotton gauze soaked in vinegar. Pre-cancerous lesions begin to turn white after about a minute and can be seen with the naked eye, or under a bright halogen light (or any bright light source).
It seems it is only a matter of time until the test becomes available in a home remedy kit, with training widely available. The simplicity of the test also raises questions about its use for other cancers.
Of course if pre-cancerous lesions are detected, follow-up is essential