India has to pay more attention to early detection and prevention of cancer, as it is taking a heavy toll in terms of human lives, according to experts participating in the ongoing International Congress on Women, Work and Health (WWH-2005) in the country.
'Around 800,000 new cancer cases are being reported every year in India, which means emphasis needs to be on early detection and preventive care,' Surabhi Kakar, Secretary of Indian Cancer Society said.
According to Sunita Kaistha, Secretary General of the Congress, uterine cervix and breast cancers account for over 50% of all cancers among women.
'While cervical cancers account for 126,000 new cases and 71,000 deaths, breast cancer accounts for 80,000 new cases every year in India,' Kaistha said.
K.A. Dinshaw, director of Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai said: 'There is no organized screening programme for cervix and breast cancers in India. Population based screening with cytological examination requires vast resources and highly skilled manpower. What we need is a proper attention towards the disease to stop it from becoming pandemic.'
Dinshaw said his hospital has initiated a rural outreach programme and the experiences gained in terms of reduction in the incidence and mortality due to oral, cervix and breast cancer, will be transferred to the National Cancer Control Program (NCCP).
'The outreach programme will provide the basis for utilizing low cost technology tools for down staging cervix and breast cancers in societies that have limited financial resources,' he added.
Janak McGilligan, Director, Barli Development Institute For Rural Women, Indore, also emphasized on creating healthcare awareness among women, especially in rural, tribal and illiterate belts.
'Millennium development goals cannot be achieved without providing community health education through training, especially for rural and tribal women. And it's the best way to break the cycle of ill health, hunger and poverty,' said McGilligan.
Speaking about cancer risk and its prevention in post-menopausal women, Daniela Vecchio, an expert from Italy's National Cancer Research Institute said: 'With post-menopausal life expectancy at around 33 years, ensuring the well being of menopausal women is an essential public health concern.'
She said, in one of their studies, they found that 21% of the of menopausal women in Italy have, or have had, cancer as compared to only 1.3% of non menopausal women.
Organized jointly by National Institute for Working Life, a Swedish NGO, and the Society for Working Life, a Delhi based NGO, the 'WWH-2005' is being held for the first time in South Asia.
The earlier meetings were held in Barcelona (1996), Rio de Janeiro (1999) and Stockholm (2002). 800 delegates from 58 countries are participating at the ongoing congress.