Ramya Kannan

It will be implemented in Theni

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Government has put on trial a low-cost, effective method to detect pre-cancerous stages in the cervical cancer among rural women.

The project will be implemented in Thanjavur and Theni. The VIA method was touted by the Lancet as the model for cancer cervix detection in resource poor settings after the results of a study in Ambillikai, Dindigul district showed it to be of immense utility in detecting pre-cancerous stages in women. The measure of success in these two districts will determine whether the programme can be extended to other districts, according to PWC Davidar, Project Director, Tamil Nadu Health Services Project, which is the implementing agency.

“It is very significant that the Tamil Nadu Government is examining VIA, especially considering that a study [in 2000] established that 67 out of every 1,00,000 women in rural Tamil Nadu had cervical cancer,” said R. Rajkumar, assistant professor of community medicine, PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Coimbatore.

Cost factor

The cost factor, besides the apparent simplicity of the procedure, would be the key to establishing VIA as an important tool for cancer detection, Dr.Rajkumar said.

The entire process — inclusive of a cryosurgery in case a woman tests positive — costs Rs.100. Without the surgery, the cost may be as low as Rs. 30, setting it at an advantage over the traditional Pap Smear test which costs Rs.200 and is not so efficient in detecting pre-cancerous stages.

However, experts cautioned that effective and appropriate implementation was essential right from the beginning.

The IARC has also recommended training nursing assistants in VIA, and doctors and nurses in treatment of cervical precancerous lesions.