Implementing community-based cervical cancer screening programs using visual inspection with acetic acid in India: A systematic review

Cancer Epidemiol. 2017 Aug;49:161-174. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2017.06.008. Epub 2017 Jul 10.


The objective of this review was to systematically appraise the existing published literature about community-based cervical cancer screening programs that have used visual inspection methods using acetic acid (VIA) in India. All peer reviewed journal articles till December 2015 were searched per PRISMA guidelines. Articles reporting results from cervical cancer screening programs in community-based settings, conducted in India, and using VIA were included in this review. The search resulted in 20 articles to be included in the review with a total of 313,553 women at 12 unique urban and rural sites across India. Seventeen (85%) studies were cross-sectional and three studies were randomized controlled trials; most studies compared accuracy of VIA with other screening tests such as visual inspection using Lugol's Iodine (VILI), HPV DNA, and cytology. Of studies that reported test accuracy for CIN Grade 2+, the VIA sensitivity values ranged from 16.6-82.6% and specificity ranged from 82.1-96.8%. Women between age groups of 30-59 years were recruited using motivational one-on-one counseling and local support staff. All studies conducted diagnostic follow-up using colposcopy and guided biopsies, when necessary. Three major themes were identified that facilitated implementation of screening programs in a community-based setting: standardized training that maintained competency of test providers; collaborations with community-based organizations that used health education for recruitment of participants; and employing the screen-and-treat method to reduce loss to follow-up. Summarized evidence presented in this review could substantially influence future implementation and sustainment of cervical cancer screening programs at a national level.

Keywords: Acetic acid; Cervical cancer; Health planning; Implementation; India; Screening; Visual inspection.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetic Acid*
  • Adult
  • Colposcopy / methods
  • Community Health Services / methods
  • Community Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Iodides
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology


  • Iodides
  • Acetic Acid
  • Lugol's solution