The Hindu Future India Club, Omega Hospitals hold awareness camp for ASHA workers

Lack of awareness among women, especially those living in slums and rural areas, is responsible for detection of breast and cervical cancer at a late stage and is resulting in cancer deaths. How does one reach out to these women, who do not discuss such matters except with close confidantes?

The Hindu Future India Club and Omega Hospitals joined hands to create awareness among Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, who act as a liaison to spread health awareness among these women, on the occasion of World Cancer Day, at Suryabaugh here on Tuesday.

The large hall was packed to full capacity as enthusiastic participants turned up in large numbers and listened in rapt attention as B. Ravi Shankar, medical oncologist and MD of Omega Hospitals, spoke on various aspects of breast and cervical cancer, the causes, the risk factors and preventive measures.

About 70% of cancers could be attributed to causes like smoking, irregular and improper diet, genetic and viral infections. Breast cancer symptoms include: swelling in breast, upper chest or arm pit, changes in size or shape of the breast, nipple discharge, rash or crusting, changes in colour or skin texture of breast.

Dr. Ravi Shankar explained that women, who do not maintain proper hygiene of their private parts, run a greater risk of getting cervical cancer. The other causes include: unsafe sex, promiscuity and bearing more number of children.

The symptoms of cervical cancer include: bleeding in post menopausal women, vaginal discharge, bleeding after sexual intercourse, inter-menstrual bleeding and prolonged bleeding. When these indications were seen, women should undergo a simple pap smear test. A vaccine to prevent cervical cancer was available and this would give 60 to 70 % protection.

He called upon ASHA workers to consider factors like age, family history, smoking, underweight or overweight and create awareness among women accordingly. They should impress upon the women on the need to have a balanced diet with inclusion of a good amount of green leafy vegetables and fruits in their diet, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, protection from sun and avoiding alcohol.

Replying to queries from the participants, Dr. Ravi Shankar said that the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine should be taken after a girl attains maturity and again before marriage. To another question, he said that pancreatic cancer was difficult to diagnose early and the symptoms would be known through indications like jaundice, stomach pain and changes in bowel movements.

“We (AP Hospitals Association) have represented to Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy on the need to include HPV vaccination under Arogyasri for the benefit of poor and middle income groups and we expect a positive response on the issue,” he told another participant.

V. Pradeep, surgical oncologist, and Assistant Project Director Nagamani also spoke.

Zonal Commissioner-3 M. Venkateswarlu and S. Senthil Nathan, GM-Sales and Marketing, Omega Hospitals, were present.

Later, a free screening programme was organised for the participants.

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