Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in India; accounting for 18.3% of new cases in the country. It is touted as the ‘disease of inequity’ because of the lack of access to modern advancements that have not equally benefited people living in LMICs like India.
Many studies prove that early screening and treatment reduces the overall incidence and prevalence of the disease. But for women living in rural India, low awareness about early detection and scarcity of healthcare resources often leads to the cancer only being diagnosed at an advanced stage; which leads to death.
Pap smears have been used for cervical cancer screening since the 1940s but the methodology is plagued with multiple issues. Pap smears require a complex infrastructure – experts to collect the sample / develop the slide, careful transportation of the slide to the laboratory and expert analysis by a pathologist for the final results. This not only makes this technique cost intensive but also increases the turnaround time for getting the results – which prevents the patient from getting immediate treatment, in case the results are positive.
And while WHO recommends naked VIA tests for LMICs, they also have a major limitation w.r.t. the subjectivity of test results as the accuracy is dependent on the experience of the professional conducting the test.
Taking cognizance of all these issues, ACT For Health has decided to support Periwinkle Technologies which has developed Smart Scope® CX – a handheld device that enables health workers to detect cervical cancer at an early stage, thus, reducing the morbidity and high mortality caused by late diagnosis.
Smart Scope captures images of the cervix with uniform illumination without the need for electricity, space, or other infrastructure. Its AI component analyses the images to provide a risk stratification thus reducing the need for extensive training and experience for the existing personnel to conduct the screening tests. The sensitivity of the test is around 88-90%, which is quite high compared to a pap smear, and the test results can be obtained within 10-15 mins.
ACT Grants is supporting Periwinkle in conducting an operational study in Chhattisgarh, by screening 2500+ women, to establish the benefits of Smart Scope® CX against the current prevalent naked eye VIA test.