A remarkably simple vinegar test in India has managed to lower the rate of cervical cancer deaths by one-third.
Healthcare professionals have said that the outcome of the test has been “incredible”, stating that it is capable of saving millions of lives.
The introduction of pap tests and tests for HPV significantly reduced the incidence of cervical cancers in the U.S. A pap test involves examining a cervical swab and screening it for abnormal cells linked to potentially pre-cancerous and cancerous processes. Both tests are very effective in preventing and reducing cervical cancer deaths.
Over 99 per cent of cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. HPV tests are also accurate at detecting cervical cancer. In fact, there was a debate among reproductive health experts over whether HPV tests should replace Pap smears as the primary method for screening for cervical cancer.
However, many developing nations can’t afford screening tools such as Pap smears or human papillomavirus (HPV) tests, subsequently there is a lack of screening and care for the disease.
As a result, cervical cancer is now one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in India.
To tackle the problem, researchers have been trying to find a cost-efficient method of detecting the cancer before it’s too late.
After years of work, a group of scientists have developed an alternative test to Pap smears.
The vinegar test is inexpensive and can be carried out with very little training and not much need for equipment. It involves swabbing the cervix with vinegar, which makes any pre-cancerous tumors turn white. The results can be seen within just minutes.
A total of 150,000 women living in the slums of Mumbai took part in the study.
The results revealed that the vinegar test reduced cervical cancer deaths in the area by an overwhelming 31 percent.
Experts predict that over 22,000 deaths in India and 72,600 deaths worldwide could be prevented as a result of this new method of screening.
The main sponsor of the study, Dr. Ted Trimble of the National Cancer Institute in the U.S., said: “That’s amazing. That’s remarkable. It’s a very exciting result.”
In addition, Electra Paskett, a gynecological cancer expert at Ohio State University, commented: “The thing in their program that was really wonderful is they assured follow-up their completion rate was phenomenal.”
75,360 women who took the vinegar test were screened every two years since 1998 and 76,178 received vouchers for a free Pap test.
The vinegar test proved to be a much cheaper and more accessible means of diagnosing cervical cancer in the country.
Lead study author, Surendra Srinivas Shastri, a professor of preventive oncology at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital, concluded:
“We hope our results will have a profound effect in reducing the burden of cervical cancer in India and around the world.
This is the first trial to identify a cervical cancer screening strategy that reduces mortality and is feasible to implement on a broad scale throughout India and in other developing countries.”
The journal PLOS Medicine had published a report stating that women in the third world are not getting the cervical cancer screenings that they need. However, with this new finding there is now hope for the millions of women living in those countries.