Dr Rengaswamy Sankaranarayanan, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France and colleagues, did a study of 49311 apparently healthy women aged 30-59 in the Dindigul district of India, of which 31343 were screened for cervical cancer. A further 30958 women acted as a control group.

The screening method used was VIA - a visual inspection using a speculum and bright halogen focus lamp, after application of 4 percent acetic acid solution to the cervix. The presence of acetowhite lesions or areas close to the squamocolumnar junction of the cervix was indicated a positive VIA result; no such lesions or areas gave a negative VIA result.

The researchers found that 3088, almost ten percent, of the women screened gave a positive VIA result, of which 3052 underwent colposcopy and 2539 had directed biopsy. A total of 1874 were found to have precancerous lesions, 72 percent of whom received treatment. In the intervention group (49311 women), a total of 167 cervical cancer cases and 83 cervical cancer deaths were recorded; in the control group (30958 women), 158 cases and 92 deaths were recorded. Women in the intervention group were 25 percent less likely to develop cervical cancer and 35 percent less likely to die from the condition compared with the control group.

The authors of the study conclude: “VIA screening, in the presence of good training and sustained quality assurance, is an effective method to prevent cervical cancer in developing countries.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Lancet