Despite being the most common cancers amongst women, a little is known about cervical and breast cancer amongst the youngsters of India. On the occasion of World Cancer Day —a survey done by Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai and BLK Hospital, New Delhi, shows the need to create awareness about detection and preventive measures in Indian youth to march towards the goal of cancer elimination
375 Students ageing 18-21 years participated in the survey conducted at Dahanukar College and Sathye Colleges. At Delhi, 220 youngsters ageing 16-24 from various colleges and surrounding areas of BLK Hospital responded through an online questionnaire and the common thread amongst the youngsters was their lack of awareness about the cancers effecting, Cervix and Breasts. Despite almost half, the participants being women - 58% in Mumbai and 60% in Delhi said they are not aware of cervical cancer. Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which as per World Health Organisation (WHO) causes 70% of cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cervical lesions had failed to grab the attention of 58% of students in Mumbai and 71% in Delhi.
However, the youngsters were well informed about oral cancer and general cancers, most likely due to the intensified anti-tobacco campaigns run by state and central governments, said, experts. Over 80% of participants across the two cities were aware of the direct co-relation of tobacco and alcohol with that of oral cancer. The majority refused that smoking or consuming consumption of Tobacco is meant to relieve stress or gain focus.
Discussing the survey report, Dr Sanjay Dudhat, Head of Oncosurgery at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital said the survey will help Oncologists, decision-makers and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in this field, to identify specific areas of improvement for cancer awareness.
“We always say prevention is better than cure and this is true for cancer. Now since we know efforts to intensify knowledge about HPV, its mean of transmission & vaccination, pap-smear test, SBE and Clinical Breast Examination are necessary, we will focus on these areas while dealing with society at large. Let’s take an oath this World Cancer Day to live a healthy lifestyle with good balanced and nutritious diet, good physical activity, yoga meditation and avoid tobacco, alcohol, adulterated food,” said Dr.Dudhat.
Dr.Surender Dabas, Director - Surgical Oncology & Chief of Robotic Surgery, BLK Cancer Centre, citing the data, requested the need to create awareness about the advantages of early diagnosis. “Lack of awareness often delays the diagnosis and as a result, about 50% of cancer patients discover their ailments only in the 3rd or 4th stage, which severely restricts their survival chances. Due to the rising incidence of cancer, youngsters in our country need to be made aware of advanced facilities for early diagnosis, treatment, and care,” said Dr.Dabas.
The survey has marked the beginning of a new string of community outreach programs, to be organised by both Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital and BLK Hospital to create more awareness about cancer, its preventive measures, diagnosis and treatment among youngsters. Considering the increasing cancer incidents, the hospitals have been engaging in various awareness programs and activities across geographies to march towards the ultimate goal of cancer elimination.