Feb 222012

 When vinegar is brushed on a woman’s cervix, precancerous spots turn white.

The spots are immediately frozen with a metal probe cooled by carbon dioxide.

Only one visit is needed to detect and kill an incipient cancer.

But of the 6,000 women recruited 11 years ago for the first trial, not a single one has developed full-blown cancer.

Inexpensive safe & easily done.

This was reported in the New York Times “Fighting Cervical Cancer With Vinegar and Ingenuity” Donald G. McNeil, Jr.,

This process developed by experts at the Johns Hopkins medical school in the 1990s and now endorsed last year by the World Health Organization.

Dr. Bandit Chumworathayi, a gynecologist at Khon Kaen University who helped run the first Thai study of VIA/cryo, explains that vinegar highlights the tumors because they have more DNA, and thus more protein and less water, than other tissue.

It reveals pre-tumors with more accuracy than a typical Pap smear.

But it also has more false positives — spots that turn pale but are not malignant, as a result, some women get unnecessary cryotherapy.

But freezing is about 90 percent effective, and the main side effect is a burning sensation that fades in a day or two.

With a Pap smear, a doctor takes a scraping from the cervix, which is then sent to a laboratory to be scanned by a pathologist.

Many poor countries lack high-quality labs, and the results can take weeks to arrive.

By contrast, biopsies, the old method, can cause bleeding.

This new procedure is performed by trained nurses, a cost effective way of servicing communities.

Only one visit is needed to detect and kill an incipient cancer.

Some doctors resist” the cryotherapy approach, said Dr. Wachara Eamratsameekool, a gynecologist at rural Roi Et Hospital who helped pioneer the procedure.

They call it ‘poor care for poor people.’

This is a misunderstanding”. “It’s the most effective use of our resources.”

VIA/cryo was pioneered in the 1990s simultaneously by Dr. Paul D. Blumenthal, an American gynecologist working in Africa, and Dr. Rengaswamy Sankaranarayanan in India.

Dr. Blumenthal said he and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins medical school had debated ways to make cervical lesions easier to see, and concluded that whitening them with acetic acid would be effective.

Freezing off lesions is routine in gynecology and dermatology, the challenge was making it cheap and easy.

Liquid nitrogen is hard to get, but carbon dioxide is readily available.

They can then be immediately frozen off with a metal probe cooled by a tank of carbon dioxide, available from any Coca-Cola bottling plant.


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