MANILA, Philippines—A simple vinegar test is all it takes to diagnose and help cut down cervical cancer rates among Filipino women, according to an expert from the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.
The inexpensive vinegar test, called visual inspection with acetic acid wash (VIA), could help detect the disease at an early, treatable stage, said Dr. Ma. Carmen Hernandez-Quevedo, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center.
“For those resource-challenged areas where access to pap smear is difficult, VIA is an alternative test which requires only simple household cane vinegar,” said Quevedo, adding that the VIA has a comparable accuracy to pap smear.
“With VIA, the doctor swabs the woman’s cervix with vinegar. There are indications that would say if it’s cancerous or not. The results are known within minutes and women detected to have a precancerous condition are advised to go through an advance method of diagnosis,” she said.
“Cervical cancer remains a public health concern that continues to threaten the welfare and well-being of our Filipino women and the population as a whole. It is the second most common cancer among women worldwide with about 500,000 new cases and 250,000 deaths each year,” Quevedo said.
According to a rough estimate, there are some 4,500 cervical cancer cases annually in the Philippines.
“That’s why we encourage women, especially those sexually active, to undergo screening,” Quevedo said.
She explained that cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex.
While the Pap smear remains to be the standard in the early detection of cervical cancer, the VIA has also long been accepted, especially in hospitals and rural health centers with no pap smear capability, said Quevedo.