“Lack of outreach and hesitancy among women are the reasons for low screening rates”: Pratima Shankar, NGO coordinator, PSCF .
Bengaluru: Only 0.4 percent of women in Karnataka have undergone screening for breast cancer, according to the data by the National Family Health Survey.
With this, Karnataka has recorded the lowest number of breast cancer screenings in 2019-20.
In comparison, Kerala has undergone the highest screening with 2.4 percent followed by Maharashtra (1.3 percent), Goa (1.3 percent) and Andhra Pradesh (0.8 percent).
Dr. Lohita Krishna, breast oncologist, Sri Shankara Cancer Foundation and Research Centre, sees lack of awareness and ignorance as the prime reasons behind the fewer number of screenings.
A report by the National Cancer Registry Programme in 2020 states that the highest number of breast cancer cases were observed in the metropolitan cities of Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai.
“Breast cancer has become one of the most common malignancies among women, especially in the metropolitan cities,” said Dr. Krishna.
Dr. Krishna believes that dietary and lifestyle moderation is the reason behind the increase in cases. “Dietary and lifestyle is a broad term that is used for multiple factors. So, urbanization itself is the cause for all this. Also, incidences of breast cancer during 2020 are above 2 lakhs, so one in 29 females is at the risk of developing breast cancer,” she adds.
The pandemic induced lockdown has affected the stage at which the breast cancer is being detected.“Before the pandemic there were more of stage 1 and 2 malignancies. During the lockdown, there was fear among women to step out and visit hospitals. So after lockdown, they presented stage 3 and 4 malignancies,” said Dr. Krishna.
Kusum, a 40-year-old, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year said, “I started developing lumps in by breast in 2019 but I kept ignoring it. During the lockdown I was hesitant in visiting the hospital but when my family insisted, I went for the check up.”
Poorna Sudha Cancer Foundation has been screening women for breast cancer for the past seven years. Pratima Shankar, NGO coordinator, says lack of outreach and hesitancy among women are the reasons for low screening rates.
“Probably outreach is not there and women are hesitant to come for screening. Rural women are more aware of the need for getting tested as compared to urban women. In the cities, women do not like to come and enter the camp of screening buses,” she said.