Now there is a simple visual test for cervical cancer using vinegar.
A simple vinegar test slashed cervical cancer death rates by one-third in a remarkable study of 150,000 women in the slums of India, where the disease is the top cancer killer of women.
This study tried a test that costs very little and can be done by local people with just two weeks of training and no fancy lab equipment. They swab the cervix with diluted vinegar, which can make abnormal cells briefly change color.
"It's just not possible to provide Pap smear screening in developing countries. We don't have that kind of money" or the staff or equipment, so a simpler method had to be found, Shastri said.
More progress against cervical cancer may come from last month's announcement that two companies will drastically lower prices on HPV vaccines for poor countries. Pilot projects will begin in Asia and Africa; the campaign aims to vaccinate more than 30 million girls in more than 40 countries by 2020.