TREATMENT FOR CERVICAL PRE-CANCER
Cryotherapy is a gynecological treatment used to freeze and destroy abnormal cervical cells. Cryotherapy treats only pre-cancer. It is not a treatment for cervical cancer.
1. During the cryotherapy procedure, a speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the cervix can be seen. At the tip of the cryo-unit is the cryo-probe.
2. The cryo-probe is inserted into the vagina and placed over the abnormal area of cervical tissue. It reaches a temperature of approximately -50 degrees Celsius, which is cold enough to destroy abnormal cervical tissue.
3. The most common method of applying cryotherapy treatment is referred to as the “3-5-3” method, in which the freeze is applied for three minutes, followed by a 5-minute thaw, followed by the final 3-minute freeze.
Cryotherapy has an overall cure rate of approximately 85-90%, similar to other treatment methods. Success rates of cryotherapy depend on the length of freeze and type of refrigerant used. Cure rates are typically lower for large or higher-grade lesions.
SINGLE VISIT OR SCREEN-AND-TREAT APPROACH
Cryotherapy is an excellent treatment option in low-resource settings when coupled with any screening test that yields immediate results. These programs enable providers to deliver screening and treatment in the same visit (the single visit approach, or screen-and-treat). These systems have been successful in low-income countries where women face significant barriers to screening, and are likely to be lost to follow-up appointments in a multi-visit Pap smear system.
A closer look at the screen-and-treat approach for cervical cancer prevention from Jjpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University:
WHO guidelines: Use of cryotherapy for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
PATH: Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA): Evidence to Date
PAHO: A critical review of selected articles
Jhpiego: Cervical Cancer Prevention