In Guatemala, cervical cancer ranks second in gynecological cancer incidence, with an estimated 1,503 new cases yearly. Yet, it is first in mortality, causing 793 deaths annually. Cervical cancer is a preventable disease, yet it remains one of the leading causes of death among women worldwide, with 80% of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
Utilizing the Visual Inspection by Acetic Acid (VIAA) method, a woman’s cervix is inspected visually with an acetic (vinegar) wash. If white lesions are present, our nurses administer cell-freezing cryotherapy treatment immediately. Within weeks, healthy cells replace those affected by the human papillomavirus, and no further treatment is needed.
Especially in impoverished areas such as rural Guatemala, the VIAA/Cryotherapy is an excellent alternative to the Pap smear test. This method cuts the lengthy process of the Pap smear test down to one visit, with the exam and treatment being available at the same time.
To increase the sustainability of this program, we collaborate with the Guatemalan Ministry of Health to train their nurses in the VIAA/Cryotherapy method.
Within a short time, the Cervical Cancer Screening Program has proven successful. We perform the VIAA method during every Rural Medical Mission, and thousands of women have received cervical cancer screenings.