A Preventable Pandemic
90% of the 528,000 cases and 266,000 deaths from cervical cancer in 2012 occurred in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The prevalence of cervical cancer in LMICs can be partly attributed to a lack of early diagnoses. In high-income countries clinicians use pap smears to find abnormal tissues before they progress into precancerous lesions. A lack of proper screening techniques will contribute to cervical cancer causing 447,000 deaths in LMICs in 2030. This disparity in cervical cancer screening is unacceptable.
VIA Testing Isn't Viable
Visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) testing has emerged as the standard for cervical cancer screening in LMICs because of both its accessibility and low price. For the test, clinicians apply 3% vinegar to the cervix and inspect it after 3 minutes for precancerous lesions whitened by the vinegar. While VIA is preferred in LMICs, it generally shows poor diagnostic sensitivity (67-79%) and specificity (49-86%) due to issues that include inconsistent lighting conditions in clinics and inadequate lesion detection training by healthcare workers.