Non-communicable diseases (NCD) clinics in the State have screened over 2.5 crore persons for hypertension, diabetes, cervical and breast cancer.

“The NCD clinics are in primary health centres, district headquarter hospitals, taluk hospitals and medical college hospitals. Staff nurses trained in NCDs have been appointed, and the aim of these clinics is to pick up symptoms early, particularly for cervical and breast cancer among women,” health minister C. Vijaya Baskar said.

He was speaking at a function to mark World Cancer Day at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (GH) on Wednesday. To date, 1,11,29,604 persons have been screened for hypertension; 75,42,831 persons for diabetes; 33,14131 for cervical cancer and 45,54,632 for breast cancer, he said.

Now, women aged above 30 are able to access cancer screening facilities at PHCs in villages itself, he said, adding, “If needed, they are referred to higher centres for treatment. Their addresses and contact numbers are registered and a follow-up is done.”

Under the Chief Minister’s comprehensive health insurance scheme (CMCHIS), Rs. 1 crore has been spent towards the treatment of 300 patients in the surgical oncology department and Rs. 2.87 crore for 2,000 patients in radiation oncology, he said.

S. Geethalakshmi, director of medical education, said the CMCHIS has enabled the purchase of expensive drugs required for the treatment of cancer.

K. Kalachelvi, head of medical oncology at GH said, “It is a myth that cancer does not have any signs or symptoms. At least 75 per cent of patients have a few symptoms such as loss of weight, loss of appetite and breast enlargement. The problem is that nobody notices these symptoms.”

Pamphlets containing information on cancer, including myths, causes and symptoms of various cancers and the dangers of tobacco use, were distributed to the public. The doctors also interacted with the public and clarified their doubts about cancer.

R. Jeyaraman, dean in-charge of GH, S. Shanmugakumar, head of radiation oncology and J.C. Bose, head of surgical oncology also participated.