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Vinegar Test Diagnoses Cervical Cancer

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Vinegar Test Diagnoses Cervical Cancer

A simple vinegar test is being employed in Indian to help diagnose cervical cancer.

Indian doctors are using an unusual diagnostic test to help catch cervical cancer in rural areas of the country where medical facilities are poor.

The test, developed by scientists at Johns Hopkins University and other institutions, employs a simple household condiment to detect the cancer, vinegar. When applied to a women cervix, the acetic acid in the vinegar causes the area of the body to turn white or yellow if there are cancerous cells present. The test only takes one or two minutes

Cervical cancer used to kill more women in the United States than any other cancer. And in India, it’s still a huge problem. Diagnosing cervical cancer requires personnel and well-equipped labs, which are lacking in many parts of country. Dr Surendra Shastri, a cancer specialist at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, explained that the resources in India just aren’t sufficient to provide enough tests to diagnose the disease:

“It’s just not possible for us to provide [the pap test] as frequently as it is done in the West,”

The test has been known about for many years, however it took a long time to catch on. When it was first offered to villagers almost a decade ago many women were embarrassed to have a vaginal exam and turned it down. Other refused simply because they were unaware that a simple test could be so important.

vinegar test diagnoses cervical cancer

Vinegar Test Diagnoses Cervical Cancer Quickly and Efficiently

To help encourage women to undergo the test the team from Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital and Walawalkar Hospital in Dervan, where Dr Suvarna Patil is medical director, put together a team of female doctors and began teaching them not just how to perform the test but how to scan for other health problems too. They sent out medical workers with power points presentations and put posters up around town, and even held performances to help raise awareness.

Slowly more women opted for test, while husband were screened for other conditions, and after eight long years, attitudes are slowly changing. Patil said:

“Now they are seeing the results, because if the cancer is picked up in early condition, the patient is doing well,” she says. “People are coming to us and telling us, ‘Please arrange a cancer screening camp for our ladies.’

The vinegar technique has now been adopted in several countries now, but scientists are say are close to perfecting a new treatment that could be even more effective.


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  1. Joanne Silberner: Testing for cervical cancer with vinegar. BBC, 12/05/2012.

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