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KJ Somaiya Medical College and Research initiative encourages women to undergo regular breast cancer screening

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Objective to create awareness of breast cancer in community, train women aged 30+ to perform self-breast examination

The Department of Community Medicine, KJ Somaiya Medical College and Research Project ‘Prerna’ to encourage women in low socio-economic groups in urban and rural areas of Maharashtra to undergo regular breast cancer screening. The breast cancer awareness and screening programme were started in the year 2014, as a community based urban project in Pratikshanagar and later expanded to other urban and rural field practice areas. The project through mahila mandals and other organisations conducted awareness and health checkup camps in other parts of Mumbai like Kurla, Vashi and Chembur. They have also covered rural areas like Lodhivali village in Panvel and Asangaon in Bhiwandi. These areas were selected based on their low level of awareness of breast cancer.

Dr Padmavathi Dyavarishetty, Professor and Head, Department of Community Medicine, K J Somaiya Medical College and Research Centre says, “Women do not accord priority to their health, and the concept of undergoing a preventive health checkup does not exist. For economically challenged women, their entire life revolves around household chores; and visiting a doctor when you have no health problem is unheard of. At times other family members, especially the men discourage or even stop them from attending the hospital for a checkup.”

In five years, 2907 clinical breast examinations, 358 mammograms were conducted. While 889 women were screened for cervical cancer; 1920 women were screened for anaemia; 1983 women screened for hypertension, and 1773 women had tested for diabetes.

She added “The main objective of the project was to create awareness of breast cancer in the community and also train women aged 30 years and above to perform a self-breast examination and motivate women above the age of 40 years to undergo an annual clinical breast examination (CBE) and also motivate women, 50 years and above to undergo mammography once in two years. It also aimed at providing referral services, follow up and counselling services for women detected with abnormalities in CBE / mammography so that the women undergo necessary investigations and treatment.”

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