New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry is going to come up with new guidelines which will focus on ensuring wider cervical and breast cancer screening in India even as doctors say that women are becoming increasingly vulnerable to these diseases.
The government is looking to put a strong emphasis on the screening and early detection of cervical and breast cancer and the treatment of the same at the district level and in villages, said a doctor who was part of the expert panel which drafted the guidelines.
"The guidelines will be along the lines of the Tamil Nadu model and will try to ensure that screening reaches the district level and the villages.
"Universal coverage of breast cancer screening by the method of clinical breast examination and cervical cancer screening by VIA method will be stressed in the new guidelines," said Dr Neerja Bhatla, gynaecologist and obstetrician at AIIMS and a member of of the expert panel.
In India, breast cancer has become the most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women with cervical cancer being No.2 in that regard.
"We usually recommend that for cervix, the screening should start at the age of 30 while breast self-examination should start at the age of 20," she added. For cervical cancer screening, women should also undergo the Pap test, she said.
Every year, about 1.23 lakh women in India are diagnosed with cervical cancer with the disease killing 67,000 women annually. Around one out of every four women to die of cervical cancer in the world is an Indian.
"The causes (of cervical cancer) are sexual intercourse at an early age, multiple sexual partners, low immunity and even smoking, which leaves women more vulnerable, and HIV infection," Bhatla said.
As to breast cancer, she said, "Late marriage and declining trend of breast-feeding along with obesity, which is a lifestyle disease, are some of the factors.