GHMC's women sanitation employees to undergo breast cancer screening

Hyderabad, Feb 5 (IANS): About 400 women sanitation employees of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) will undergo free breast cancer screening.

In an endeavor to reach out to vulnerable women employees, KIMS Hospital is organising free mammography screening for the women sanitation employees aged above 50 years.

Dr. P. Raghu Ram, Director, KIMS-Ushalakshmi Centre for Breast Diseases noted that the GHMC Sanitation Staff work to gruelling schedules late into the night and early hours of the morning, exposing themselves to the dust and air pollution and many times risking their lives.

A newly acquired latest generation 3D mammography system would be used to undertake screening for these women. The programme started from World Cancer Day on February 4 and will continue till International Women's day on March 8.

"The aim is to detect cancer very early before the woman or the doctor can feel the lump in the breast, which ensures a cure and excellent long term survival," said the eminent breast surgeon who tried to create awareness about the importance of early detection amongst this most vulnerable group through a video and powerpoint presentation.

"There are only two ways to fight breast cancer, which is the commonest cancer affecting women in India. Firstly women of all ages must be 'breast aware' and report any new changes to the doctor. Secondly, women over the age of 40 years must have an annual screening mammogram," he said.

Dr. B. Bhaskar Rao, CMD, KIMS Hospitals said this initiative yet again would go a long way in saving many lives. As part of the Corporate-Social Responsibility, KIMS Hospitals would be screening 400 underprivileged women this year. The Screening Mammograms would be undertaken at KIMS-Ushalakshmi Centre for Breast Diseases, which is south Asia's first purpose-built comprehensive Breast Centre at KIMS Hospitals.

Dr Raghuram observed that in India with around 14,00,000 new cases diagnosed and over 8,00,000 deaths every year, the cancer 'tsunami' in India has rapidly emerged to become a major public health concern. The grim statistics from WHO reveal that 1 in 9 Indians will develop cancer in their lifetime and one in 15 will die of it.

Due to lack of awareness, the absence of a robust nationwide screening programme, inadequate healthcare staffing/infrastructure, limited affordability, and most importantly, inequitable and poor access to care, close to 60 per cent of cancer patients in India present in advanced stages, with significantly higher mortality, when compared with high-income countries. Breast cancer has overtaken cervical cancer to become the most common cancer affecting women in India.

"Close to 30 per cent of all new cancers detected in women in India are breast cancers. Around 2,00,000 new breast cancers are diagnosed every year in India. In other words, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 4 minutes. In India, a woman succumbs to breast cancer every 8 minutes. Every year, 100,000 women succumb to the disease," he said.



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