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Feb 5, 2015

Healthy Living takes a look at Screening for Cervical Cancer

World Cancer Day was celebrated on February fourth around the world to raise awareness on the detection, prevention as well as treatment of cancer.  Locally, cervical cancer is one of the most prevalent among women. The Belize Family Life Association is making available a new screening test which will detect the cancer as well as treat abnormal cells on the spot. If you are in reproductive age, you will want to listen up to Healthy Living in which we discuss this topic with the experts.


Marleni Cuellar reporting

Cervical cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death in women in Belize. Over the years, N.G.O.’s have embarked on numerous education & screening campaigns; but, we’re still yet to see the curbing of the disease in Belizean women.


Dr Cynthia Terry, Director of Medical Services, BFLA

Dr Cynthia Terry

“When compared to Latin America & the Caribbean, Belize rates very high when it comes to prevalence and mortality to cervical cancer.”


Dr Cynthia Terry is the director of Medical services at the Belize Family Life Association – an organization whose primary focus is sexual and reproductive health.


Dr Cynthia Terry

“Cervical cancer screening is an important screening for all women of the reproductive age. If you look at why cervical cancer occurs, it is based on the Human papilloma virus that is the main reason that they need to be screened. HPV is primarily gotten through sexual activity and so any woman who has been sexually active at any point in life is at risk for cervical cancer. Cervical pre cancer which is caused by HPV most of the times can go unnoticed by any woman; so you may be walking around thinking that your fine, you’re married only sexually active with one person and you may still cervical pre-cancer.”


Up to 95% of cases of cervical cancer can be prevented. This is why regular screening tests are recommended to women along with proper follow up care. HPV tests & vaccine are now available in Belize; but the newest prevention tool in the fight to end cervical cancer is the VIA test.

Dr Cynthia Terry

“Via stands for visual inspection with acetic acid which is table vinegar that you can buy in the store. So what it does, the acetic acid reacts with the abnormal cells in the cervix in the mouth of the womb, because abnormal cells tend to create more protein so when they react you end up with a white lesion which is very visible with the naked eye? The women is given their result right away. The result is either positive or negative or if there is any lesion that is suspected for cancer she is told that she is suspected for cancer.”


The ability to immediately inform a patient of their results is one of the reasons that the VIA is an attractive alternative to other screening test. Another beneficial aspect is that with a VIA, a trained medical person can administer treatment right then & there.


Dr Cynthia Terry

“That is the beauty of VIA because it encourages a single visit approach; so the woman is screened, after a minute she knows her result, if it is positive, she has the options of getting treated by an method called cryotherapy in which the abnormal cells on the cervix are frozen by  a double freeze technique. This can be done by a number of providers, you don’t have to be a doctor to do it, you can be nurse a midwife and people can be trained and you can do it in an outreach it doesn’t have to be an office, you don’t need electricity to do it, so it becomes very easy & a viable option for a lot of women.”


Dr Terry pointed out that several countries in the Caribbean are now adopting VIA testing as a part of the national screening program and have seen very good success rates. The VIA test is currently being offered at the BFLA clinics only. It costs $35 dollars and will take no more than 30 minutes of your time.


Dr Cynthia Terry

“It’s in your best interest as a women to protect yourself, to do all you have to do to be with your family and to keep in mind that cervical cancer is a preventable cancer and all you have to do is get screened for it.”


Marleni Cuellar reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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