Friday, November 6, 2009

VIA-CRYO Cervical Cancer Program

In my second week with Partner for Surgery, I had the opportunity to participate in a course for Guatemalan nurses and doctors that teaches cervical cancer detection and treatment.  PfS teamed up with Faith in Practice to educated 20 or so medical professionals on this simple, easy technique taught by Dr. Peter Thompson.  VIA stands for Visual Inspection of the Cervix with Acetic Acid (vinegar) and CRYO is short for cryotherapy, the subsequent freezing of any pre-cancerous lesions on the cervix.

Acetic acid treatment serves to identify cells that are pre-cancerous or affected by the Human Papillomavirus. When a positive case is identified, the patient undergoes cryotherapy, in which the infected cells are frozen using nitrous oxide. Throughout the course of several months, the frozen cells are replaced by new, healthy cells. Women who receive cryotherapy are only required to return after one year for a follow-up.

The students followed a schedule of daily review and theory in the morning and clinical practice in the afternoon.  We were allowed to use a space at the National Hospital in Salamá, Baja Verapaz to set up 8 make-shift clinics separated by bedsheets.  PfS helped to gather patients that arrived every day to be screened, many of whom had never even had a pap smear before.  The patients were greatful to be educated on feminine health and cervical cancer prevention, a theme that is not widely discussed nor taught in the outlying regions of Guatemala.

The implementation of VIA-CRYO courses and screenings has been of great value to the Mayan cultures of Guatemala.  Studies have shown that this system of screening and same-day treatment is much more effective in developing countries.  That is not to say that it is better than the pap smear; rather, it eliminates the need to return for results and/or further treatment.  Many of these women travel hours by bus to be screened and leave their daily responsibilities behind.  Returning to the clinic for consecutive visits is simply not an option for the majority of them.  In this way, the women can be screened at the clinic with the acetic acid test, receive cryotherapy treatment if results show a positive lesion, and return home the same day.

1 comment:

  1. Cryo and Stem cells are the life givers of human body and their use in the right way will lead to many new discoveries in medical sciences. The research should go on for the betterment of the world community as prevention and cure of many diseases lie in stem cell treatments.


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