Close to 1,500 people, including girl children from rural areas in the district, took part in a run conducted here on Sunday by Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research as a start to the breast cancer awareness month observance.

Flagged off by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime and Traffic) N. Kamini, the run sought to draw the attention of the public to the dangers of delayed treatment of cancer in the breast. Director of the institute P. Guhan said women could avail themselves of free consultation for a month starting from Sunday.

Dr. Guhan explained that the awareness month was being observed to stress early detection.

“Unfortunately, even educated women in the urban areas do not come for early check-up and treatment. Inhibition is a stumbling block to early detection,” he said.

While early menarche, late menopause and family history could be the main factors, excess fat and the lack of exercise were the co-factors in breast cancer cases. These co-factors were strong in the urban areas where working women had little time for exercise. Dr. Guhan said that in the rural areas, case of cancer in the cervix was more and this was because of lack of hygiene. “Awareness level has to go up in the urban areas. Only then women will come forward for early detection. In the U.S., 70 per cent of the breast cancer cases are detected early through a mammogram. These cases are detected when the lump in the breast is less than 1 cm. For these cases, only surgery will be required and not radiation or chemotherapy,” Dr. Guhan said. But, in India, more than 50 per cent of the lumps in the breast were more than 5 cm. Women came to the cancer wing for treatment only when the disease was at an advanced stage. And, these included stages of skin ulceration and bleeding. “Such cases included even educated and financially well-disposed women,” Dr. Guhan said. On October 14, the institute would distribute two lakh pamphlets on breast self-examination, mammogram, symptoms of and factors that caused the disease. Various treatment methods would also be explained. The pamphlets would be distributed in Coimbatore, the Nilgiris, Erode, Namakkal, Tirupur and Dindigul districts.

At a function organised on Sunday by Kovai Medical Center and Hospital, Medical Oncologist and Haematologist Sarada Krishnamurthy said more programmes should be organised to step up awareness on the disease in rural areas. Vice-Chairperson of the hospital Thavamani Devi Palaniswamy inaugurated the programme.

Dr. Sarada said rural women consulted a doctor only when the disease was at an advanced stage and inhibition in discussing the problem was the case in most women in both rural and urban areas. Cosmetic Surgeon Arthanari Kumar Prasad said breast reconstruction was possible now for persons on whom mastectomy (breast removal) was performed because of the cancer reaching a stage where such as procedure became inevitable. The hospital offered free consultation to mark the start of the awareness month, it said in a press release.

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