Lawmakers call for coordinated, grassroot action needed to fight breast cancer

Health experts cautioned against the changing lifestyle imitating the West as a major reason for higher incidence of breast cancer in India.

By:Updated: Oct 25, 2021 6:30 PM
AYUSH, Breast Cancer Action Day Summit, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, WHOHealth experts cautioned against the changing lifestyle imitating the West as a major reason for higher incidence of breast cancer in India.

Speaking at the second National Breast Cancer Action Day, lawmakers today called for a coordinated and multisectoral approach to expand reach of the awareness, diagnosis, and treatment.

As a part of Breast Cancer Action Month, National Breast Cancer Action Day was organised by Integrated Health & Wellbeing (IHW) Council, powered by Novartis. Experts also deliberated that breast cancer is affecting women in both cities and villages and urged people to adopt healthy lifestyle practices.

“Rapid spread of chronic and debilitating non-communicable diseases causes about 60% deaths in India. Breast cancer accounts for about 27% of all cancers in women in India and impacts the age group of 40s the most, as against 55 to 60 in advanced countries. Awareness is very important as it leads to early determination of disease. I believe there are three pillars of preventing death caused by breast cancer like health promotion among women, timely diagnosis and comprehensive treatment. We must make men aware of breast cancer as well – they are important for healthcare and support mechanisms. Besides, community-based organisations need to be strengthened as much as media campaigns – we will need people, health experts and others to join the efforts that are important to devise risk reduction strategy; I would be happy to extend any help IHW Council needs for campaigns around health promotion and diagnosis,” says Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Government of India.

Dr Munjpara Mahendrabhai Kalubhai, Minister of State for AYUSH and Women & Child Development, Government of India, says, “Cancer cases in India are growing at an alarming speed; it is the biggest cancer killer among women in India and more and more women are being affected. Whether it is a city woman or a woman from a village, the problem is common. We must think of ways to channelise them towards adopting healthy lifestyle that will reduce the risk of cancer such as shunning processed food, practising meditation and yoga or any other form of regular exercise, and knowledge of herbs and spices that are suitable for the tropical environment and has helped people in and around India live a healthy life for several centuries. I also urge the medical fraternity to expand the treatment of breast cancer to the remotest of areas. Better diagnostic and treatment facilities are needed and Ayushman Bharat has helped women in rural and remote areas.”

“Awareness about breast cancer leads to action and the pharmaceutical industry must play the role of a platform provider and builder of an ecosystem. We also need to ensure that our near and dear ones are screened. We have come a long way in terms of treatment for breast cancer with modalities such as radiation protocol but innovative screening methods will be critical,” says Saumil Mody, General Manager, Novartis Oncology, India.

“As India is on a fast track to grow into a developed nation so there is a chance that we imitate their lifestyle too – lifestyle changes are going to have a major impact as in the recent times, it has led to higher incidence of breast cancer. Lactation period in cities has shortened and limited physical activity is a problem. Creating awareness about the disease is a big challenge,” says Padma Bhushan Dr. S. H. Advani, Director, Department of Medical Oncology, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai.

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