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A Simple Cancer Test Saves Lives in Burkina Faso



From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

The World Health Organization says cervical cancer kills 250,000 women worldwide every year. WHO officials say four out of five of those women live in poor countries, like the West African nation of Burkina Faso. Doctors there are now using a simple, low-cost method to test for cervical cancer. They say the test can save thousands of lives every year.

Yacouba Ouedraogo directs the cervical cancer prevention program at a health clinic in the capital, Ouagadougou. He says cervical cancer has become the most common cancer among women in Burkina Faso. But he says finding and treating the cancer early has become much easier. Doctors there are using distilled white vinegar, a common cooking liquid, to help them see cancer cells. The vinegar can be bought at almost any market in Africa. The doctors use a small piece of cotton to place some vinegar on the opening of a woman's uterus. The liquid causes pre-cancerous or cancerous cells to turn white.

Dr. Stanislas Paul Nebie has been using the vinegar test since 2010. He says other tests are more costly and require sending cell samples to a laboratory. At a medical center in Ouagadougou, women pay $4 for the test and treatment for cells that show signs of cancer. Dr. Nebie says this is a good deal when one considers the high cost of radiology or medical operations to treat the disease. He says medical centers in rural villages are using the vinegar test. Burkina Faso does not yet have information on how many lives the test has saved. But doctors in India have said it cut cervical cancer deaths by 31 percent in a study of 150,000 women.