Narayana Health, in association with the Mazumdar Shaw Medical Foundation launched a rural cancer surveillance programme on Tuesday.
Around 80% of cancer patients who come into Narayana Health suffer from advanced stages of cancer, whose chances of survival are very less. Most of the patients, especially those from rural areas, have told doctors that they were scared of approaching hospitals and getting diagnosed with cancer. The fear and ignorance, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment, has increased the mortality rate among cancer patients.
The programme has been introduced to help patients in rural areas diagnose cancer in the early stages itself. For this a Reach Out van will be used, which will be manned by three senior doctors, six junior doctors and two social workers from Narayana Health.
Inaugurating the programme, Dr Moni Abraham Kuriokose, Head of the Department, Head and Neck Surgery Department said, “We get around 1,800 head and neck cancer cases annually. Of them, around 40% are mouth cancers, 20% breast cancers and around 30% cervical cancers. Most of these cases come in at very advanced stages, reducing the chances of their survival.”
Awareness in rural areas is very low, which has led to delayed detection and treatment. “Through this programme, we aim to bridge this gap,” he said.
The Reach Out van was flagged off by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and MD, Biocon. For now, the van will go across three villages – Jigani, Anekal and Attibele.
Dr Kuriokose said, “The van will educate the community at large about early signs and symptoms of mouth and throat cancers. The prevalence of these cancers is high because of increasing tobacco chewing and smoking habits in these areas. Later we plan to take the programme to other parts of the state.”
Dr Devi Shetty, chairman, Narayana Health, said, “Over 70% of India’s population lives in rural India, but has access to only one-third of the hospital beds. Also, diagnosing and treating head and neck cancer requires specialist doctors. Since 80% of the specialist doctors live in urban parts of the country catering to around 20% of the population, early diagnosis of the condition in rural India is difficult.”
Reproduced from Deccan Chronicle