Indigenous equipment to screen cervical cancer

With cervical cancer killing 74,000 Indian women every year, the Union Health Ministry plans to launch an inexpensive mass-screening programme for picking up early signs of this woman-specific cancer in married girls, using a new indigenous equipment.

The low-cost equipment would be a tool in the hands of doctors and nurses in a district or sub-district unit to identify suspected cases of cervical cancer that affects 1.32 lakh new Indian women each year.

Cervical cancer is a cancer of mouth of uterus. It begins as a type of pre-cancerous lesions called dysplasia, which takes about a decade to develop as full grown cancer. Early detection and subsequent treatment can help arrest a lesion's progression to cancer.

This is where the AV Magnivisualiser instrument, developed at Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology (ICPO), Noida after a decade of research would come handy. The instrument can be used at a rural or semi-urban setting to filter out the suspected cases with reasonable accuracy.

Those identified will be referred to a bigger hospital for a confirmatory test.

“Young women who had early marriage and early pregnancy can be screened. The cancer hits a woman between 30-50 years but screening can start early after marriage,” said V M Katoch, director general of Indian Council of Medical Research, the parental body of ICPO.

The symptoms include foul smelling or blood stained discharge, post-coital bleeding, inter-menstrual bleeding and post-menopausal vaginal bleeding.

Doctors and nurses require 2-3 months training to use the hand-held visual inspection instrument in a field unit, said Veena Singh, an ICPO scientist. But the main challenge for doctors and health workers would be to convince the married women is to consult a doctor or nurse on gynaecological problems, which will give the doctors a chance to inspect the patient with the instrument to pick up early signals.

“This test must go the district and sub-district hospitals at the moment and within the next two years, it should go up to 24,000 primary health care centres,” Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said here after launching the instrument.

The instrument underwent trials at five centres including two hospitals in Delhi besides Tripura, Jaipur and Kolkata. In two hospitals nurses too used the instrument successfully. When compared against gold standards, the Indian test has been found to be more than 85 per cent accurate.

Comments (+)