Mahima Chaudhary of Parde’s fame disclosed in a stunning video that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The moving video, which also included actor Anupam Kher, touched many people’s hearts and sparked new dialogues regarding women’s health. However, in India, breast cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in women, with many dying as a result of the tumor, which often goes unnoticed until it is too late. Several celebrities, including actors Sonali Bendre and Lisa Ray, as well as singer Kylie Minogue, have spoken out about their experiences fighting and surviving breast cancer in recent years. However, due to a lack of awareness and equitable distribution of healthcare resources, facilities, and accessible treatment, the disease remains one of the leading killers of women in India.
The most frequent malignancy among Indian women is breast cancer. According to a 2020 study, women diagnosed with breast cancer in India have a 66% survival rate. The same study, undertaken by CONCORD-3, a global cancer survival surveillance program run by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, discovered that survival rates for women in nations such as the United States and Australia are nearly 90%. According to a paper published in BMJ Journals titled ‘Cost of breast cancer detection and treatment in India: a scoping review protocol,’ an estimated 7,12, 758 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. That’s 104 per 100,000 people. According to data from Indian Against Cancer, one woman dies from breast cancer for every two newly diagnosed women in India.
Breast cancer screenings on a regular basis are an important element of women’s reproductive health. Women can check for breast cancer on their own at first by looking for and recognizing lumps or anomalies in their breasts. Nonetheless, the majority of women in both urban and rural regions are either unaware of or uncomfortable completing such tests.
Another factor contributing to the high incidence and mortality rates for breast cancer is the high cost of treatment and a lack of effective screening or treatment facilities. Breast cancer treatment in India can cost anywhere between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 20 lakh. Economically disadvantaged women from rural regions or even cities are sometimes unable to afford the high expense of treatment. Breast cancer insurance is also not available to economically stable women in metropolitan areas due to a lack of breast cancer or the high cost of treatment.
Community-level intervention is required.
Traditional marketing initiatives do not work in promoting awareness of breast cancer in India, according to experts at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, and community nurses are the most successful outlet. These community nurses, who are trusted in the community and by male family members, are one of the most effective routes for increasing men’s understanding of early signs and diagnosis.
Because they have the trust of spouses and dads as well as the women at risk, these Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) are significantly more effective than national advertising efforts in overcoming cultural barriers.
Training community-level healthcare professionals is critical to raising breast cancer awareness. The only approach to ensure widespread and equitable access for women in India is to focus on making reproductive healthcare accessible to all strata of women.
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