Innovation

Portable Cervical Cancer Treatment May Help Women In Remote Areas Receive Care They Need

cervical cancer
Doctors hope that this dermatological device could be used to treat women with cervical cancer in its precancerous form. Photo BBC screenshot

At one point cervical cancer was the most common cause of death for women in America under the age of 30. Today, thanks to increased use of the Pap smear test, the death rate from this form of cancer has gone down by 50 percent, The American Cancer Society reports.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in many remote villages in developing countries. Here many women still do not get life-saving screenings for the cancer due to shame or simply not understanding the importance. A team of Peruvian doctors are working to change that. They hope to revamp an old dermatological device into a portable cervical cancer treatment which will be able to get the necessary help to the women who need it, no matter where they live.

The sad irony of cervical cancer is that although it takes the lives of over a quarter million women each year, if caught in its precancerous stages, it is 100 percent curable. According to Medical News Today around 99 percent of all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus, HPV. The virus causes the cervical cells to become cancer, but when caught early on a doctor can perform cryosurgery to freeze and destroy the cancerous and precancerous cells.

As reported by the BBC News, the treatment for cervical cancer in its precancerous stages is a ten to 20 minute outpatient procedure. While the treatment has effective results, accessing those treatments is a challenge for many women who live in rural and often poor areas. The compressed gas needed to power the equipment to perform the cryosurgery is often both bulky and expensive, two traits that make it difficult to be available in poorer health clinics. Peruvian doctors hope to introduce a smaller portable version of this same device.

“This system was not originally developed for gynecology. Until now it’s been used for dermatology to treat skin lesions, but in our search for alternatives that were more portable and accessible we wondered if this could become one of those alternatives,” one of the researchers behind the device, Dr. Albert Zevallos Cardenas, told the BBC.

The device is still being tested to see how it compares with the traditional larger equipment, but according Zevallos Cardenas, it’s based on the same premise as the larger model.

The device’s effectiveness is being tested against other precancerous treatment options and results study are expected in a few months.

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