Saving Women from Cervical Cancer
Hi, I'm John Verallo. I'm a Senior Technical Adviser with Jhpiego, and with Cige Playa. She is a Senior Technical Adviser with Jhpiego, and we both work on the CECAP program, and we're here to talk about and demonstrate VIA and cryotherapy.
VIA is visual inspection with acetic acid, and it is a very effective, low-cost technique that is used to identify precancerous lesions that we can also treat immediately. And one of the important things about the VIA is that you're able to get the result right away. So within one minute, the woman can have the result. If it is negative which is normal, then we can tell the woman that and she can be empowered and know that she is very healthy. If the test is positive, which means that there is a precancerous lesions, then we can offer treatment right away with cryotherapy.
So now, we're going to move onto VIA, and Cige is going to demonstrate this. And we're going to assume that the woman has received group education and individual counseling and has agreed to accept the VIA. So we have some basic instruments and supplies. Here, we have the vinegar solution which is important to perform the VIA and the speculum to visualize the cervix. So Cige is now going to do the speculum examination. She visualizes the cervix. She can see it clearly. First, she will take a cotton ball, a cotton swab and clean off the cervix, and then she will take another cotton swab and soak it in the vinegar solution, and then she applies this to the cervix. Now, what we do is wait one minute, and what happens is that the cervix is usually nice and pink, and a normal healthy cervix after one minute will stay nice and pink. Anything that is abnormal or precancerous will turn whitish in about one minute.
Okay, so now it is one minute, and we're looking at the cervix to determine if it is VIA positive or VIA negative. The woman is VIA positive. She has been given the results, counseled about what those results mean, and offered cryotherapy, and she has accepted.
So now, we're going to proceed with the cryotherpay which is what we call a double freeze technique which involves freezing the cervix for three minutes, defrosting or waiting for five-minutes and then a second freeze for three minutes. So Cige is going to introduce the cryotherapy unit or gun, and the probe goes over the cervix, over the lesion. She squeezes back one trigger, and this is where the freezing starts, so we time it. We use a timer, and it goes for about three minutes. We look at the ice ball formation to make sure we have good coverage of the lesion. So the first freezing is done, we are now going to defrost for five minutes and then that removes the probe from the cervix and then we repeat this procedure. And during this time, the woman may have some cramping, but no anesthesia is required for this, and she usually tolerates this quite well. So the total amount of freezing takes about ten to twelve minutes total.
So you can see that the beauty of VIA and cryotherapy is that it is low-tech. It does not require lots of expensive materials, and you get the result right away, so that you can offer screening and treatment in the same visit. So a woman can actually come in, have her screening done, and actually be treated for precancerous lesions within a total of about twenty minutes, and that could potentially save her life.