Background: To increase screening and treatment coverage, innovative approaches to cervical-cancer prevention are being investigated in rural Thailand. We assessed the value of a single-visit approach combining visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid wash (VIA) and cryotherapy.
Methods: 12 trained nurses provided services in mobile (village health centre-based) and static (hospital-based) teams in four districts of Roi-et Province, Thailand. Over 7 months, 5999 women were tested by VIA. If they tested positive, after counselling about the benefits, potential risks, and probable side-effects they were offered cryotherapy. Data measuring safety, acceptability, feasibility, and effort to implement the programme were gathered.
Findings: The VIA test-positive rate was 13.3% (798/5999), and 98.5% (609/618) of those eligible accepted immediate treatment. Overall, 756 women received cryotherapy, 629 (83.2%) of whom returned for their first follow-up visit. No major complications were recorded, and 33 (4.4%) of those treated returned for a perceived problem. Only 17 (2.2%) of the treated women needed clinical management other than reassurance about side-effects. Both VIA and cryotherapy were highly acceptable to the patients (over 95% expressed satisfaction with their experience). At their 1-year visit, the squamocolumnar junction was visible to the nurses, and the VIA test-negative rate was 94.3%.
Interpretation: A single-visit approach with VIA and cryotherapy seems to be safe, acceptable, and feasible in rural Thailand, and is a potentially efficient method of cervical-cancer prevention in such settings.