In a major boost to women’s healthcare, doctors and researchers in New Delhi have found that VIA (Visual Inspection with Acetic acid) is amazingly cost-effective at Rs.2 per test to screen for cervical cancer, compared to the current regular pap smear test, which is lab-based and ranges around Rs. 1,000 per test.
By applying 3-5% acetic acid that causes dehydration of cells and surface coagulation of proteins in active cells, the result gives a white appearance to aceto-white areas which is abnormal and hence requires further evaluation.
In terms of accuracy too, the VIA test far more superior with 93.1% compared to pap smear test’s 86.2%, said the study conducted on 500 women by the Ganga Ram Hospital doctors and researchers. The findings will be published in the August edition of Journal of Current Medicine Research & Practice.
Dr Geeta Mediratta, lead author said, “VIA, with a high sensitivity, is comparable to pap smear and can be used as an alternate screening test especially in low-resource settings where the expertise to conduct definitive tests is not available.”
The study may help boost rural healthcare system as the expertise for definitive tests is not available there and also the VIA test is very effective in picking up cancerous cervical lesions in initial stages. Cervical cancer is a major cause of cancer accounting for 12% of all malignancies reported in the world.
The current practice of finding it is based on pap smear test that requires a laboratory, a trained cytologist and repeated visits to the lab and hospital for evaluation. Dr Harsha Khullar, co-author of the study, said: “We found sensitivity of VIA and pap smear comparable. For VIA, sensitivity was 93.1%, and for pap smear it was 86.2%.”