Who knew things could be this easy? Why is this treatment not available in the US?
In the US, a woman is advised to undergo a Pap Smear every six months to a year. If the lab results show abnormal cells, then the woman is advised to go to the hospital for further procedures.
In poor countries, where high-tech labs are lacking, there is now a very easy procedure being used. This procedure was developed by experts at the Johns Hopkins medical school in the 1990s, and was endorsed last year by the WHO.
This procedure is called VIA/cryo, The woman’s cervix is brushed with household vinegar. If there are any pre-cancerous lesions, they will turn white. The medical officer will then take a metal probe, cooled by a tank of carbon dioxide, and freeze the lesions. This is a one time procedure, and can be performed by a nurse. The report in the Houston Chronicle (September 27, 20110 says ‘only one visit is needed to detect and kill an incipient cancer.
Now, I know that the US is considered a rich country, but we have many women who are not. Is this procedure available to those women in low-income groups or women with no insurance coverage?
‘Freezing off lesions is routine in gynecology and dermatology; the challenge was making it cheap and easy. Liquid nitrogen is hard to get, but carbon dioxide is readily available.’ Liquid Nitrogen costs about $2.00 per gallon; Carbon Dioxide costs about a nickel a gallon. Obviously, we know that having a doctor perform the freezing is much more expensive than having a nurse performing the honors.
With all the yick/yack about lowering health care costs, could not the US implement some of these cost savings procedures? I mean, after all, freezing is freezing. Getting a cancer free diagnosis is the same no matter what the procedure costs. Higher costs do not make for more effective outcomes.
What do you think?
Until next time,