Features — 23 January 2015 — by Albert J. Ciego
Belize Family Life Association (BFLA) steps up effort to combat cervical cancer

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Jan. 20, 2015–The Belize Family Life Association (BFLA) has stepped up the effort to eradicate cervical cancer, by promoting early detection of the disease.

Cervical cancer is said to be a leading cause of death in women.

Dr. Jahan Varello told Amandala that women in Belize should not be dying of cervical cancer, since they now have an effective method of screening women for cervical cancer that has eliminated the need for the troublesome, and oftentimes uncomfortable, Pap smear. They instead use a process called VIA, which involves washing the cervix with vinegar and observing it with a bright white light.

In explaining the VIA and the VIA treatment, Dr. Varello explained that a healthy cervix is pink in color, and when washed with vinegar, it remains pink. This indicates that the person being tested is free from cervical cancer. There is no need for a follow-up visit in such instances.

However, if areas of the cervix turn white after being washed with the vinegar, the possibility of the presence of cervical cancer is pinpointed, and the treatment to rid the cancer, if it is in its early stages, can be applied.

That treatment involves the insertion of a freeze gun onto the cervix to freeze the cancers in the area. This freeze is done twice within a span of ten minutes, and typically destroys the cancer cells that were found, thus eliminating the cervical cancer that had been spotted in its early stages.

There is a follow-up after six months, then after a year, to ensure that the cancer of the cervix has been completely eradicated.

Varello explained that if a woman should experience any difficulties after undergoing the VIA treatment, she should go back to the clinic, but in 95% of cases, the VIA treatment effectively removes and cures cervical cancer that is in its initial stages.

For cancer of the cervix that has developed beyond the initial stage, the VIA treatment is deemed inappropriate and is not applied; instead, there is a referral mechanism, which would be used to get the treatment for a cancer patient at the clinic.

The VIA screening and treatment will initially be available at the BFLA Centers, in Belize City, in Dangriga, and in Punta Gorda, but after training is conducted, it will be available at the centers and clinics throughout the country.

Dr. Varello is calling on women to come to the BFLA centers, to get a free screening and to immediately eradicate cancer cells that are spotted at an early stage. He assures those women that the treatment is simple and effective, and that both the screening and subsequent treatment can be administered within 25 minutes at the clinic.

Varello said that the treatment this week is free, but thereafter a small fee will be charged, but it will be very little compared to the typical costs of treatment and diagnosis of cervical cancer, he said.

He urges women to take this simple step to prevent untold pain and suffering, and possibly death.

Individuals with questions and concerns are urged to visit the BFLA on Mercy Lane in Belize City.

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