Globally, breast cancer is the second leading form of cancer and the fifth most common cause of death among women. As per an estimate, 1.7 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. India too saw a spurt in breast cancer cases in recent times. The incident cases and mortality increased by 11.54% and 13.82% respectively in the past five years (2008-2012). Likewise, high age-adjusted incident rate (25.8 per 100,000 women) and mortality (12.7 per 100,000 women) makes it a common disease in most Indian cities. Mortality to incidence ratio was found to be higher in rural (66.3) than urban women (8.0), however during her lifetime 1 in 22 urban women develops breast cancer compared to 1 in 60 rural women of India.
The population-based cancer registries in India shows the alarmingly high incidence of breast cancer in North eastern (NE) states. Of all NE states, Kamrup has the 3rd highest incidence of breast cancer. For example, the age-adjusted incidence rate of breast cancer is 27.1 per 100,000 with an overall prevalence of 418 cases out of 2392 cancer cases.
There are a number of multifactorial individual, societal, behavioral and environmental factors associated with the increasing trend of breast cancer. The most important factors common among all such cases are the advanced stage presentation and inadequate and timely care. Healthcare seeking pathway studies suggest lack of knowledge, awareness, and low health priority on women health issues, particularly breast cancer, as some of the deterrents for poor health-seeking behavior among women and their families. Therefore, early screening and awareness building leading to timely referral, diagnosis and treatment initiation are paramount in cancer control programs. In continuation of the efforts defeating breast cancer, every year, october is observed as breast cancer awareness month. The idea is also to educate woman and man about the warning signs, importance of early detection and myths associated with the condition. One such myth ‘Men do not get Breast Cancer’ is quite contrary to the fact of increasing incid
ence and aggressiveness of breast cancer among men. Therefore, knowledge of early recognition of possible warning signs is essential for men, women, families, communities and healthcare providers. Acknowledge the increasing load of breast cancer in the society and encourage the need of awareness, education, detection and treatment is idea behind awareness month.
Recognising the importance of primary prevention, Piramal Swasthya launched a ‘community-based cancer screening programme’ in Kamrup districts of Assam. The programme, known as D.E.S.H. (Detect Early Save Her & Him) focusses on oral, cervical and breast cancer screening among men and women (aged ≥30 years) in the rural areas of the district. On a larger note, DESH program aims to reduce the proportion of late-stage diagnosis and premature mortality. The key programme activities are community awareness and mobilization, screening, counseling, follow-ups, tracking and referral (of screen-positive patients from the community to Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI), Guwahati) for timely diagnosis and treatment. Over the period of last 8 months from December’ 17 to July’18, D.E.S.H. has screened a total of 4562 beneficiaries across 75 villages of Kamrup with 171 screened positive cases. Of total screened positive cases seven were positive for breast cancer and is under investigation at BBCI, Guwahati.
Reflecting the organizational efforts, let us dedicate October 2018 to special women of our lives and spread a word of awareness and of hope fighting the bigger word together. We’ll be wearing pink this month to fight like a girl and kick cancer. Remember early to detect makes easier to fight.
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