Tamil Nadu to roll out cancer screening for women on pilot basis

Health Department to ask women over 30 to get screened for breast & cervix cancer

Updated - July 24, 2023 05:14 pm IST

Published - July 20, 2023 09:24 pm IST - CHENNAI

Going ahead with population-based cancer screening, the State’s Health Department will soon extend “invitations” to women aged over 30 years to get themselves screened for cancers of the breast and cervix. The initiative will be rolled out on a pilot basis in four districts of Tamil Nadu.

One of the key announcements of the Health Department in this year’s budget, the cancer screening programme would be piloted in Ranipet, Tirupattur, Erode and Kanniyakumari. The groundwork for the programme is nearing completion and the screening initiative would be launched in a month, according to officials.

“So far, there has been opportunistic screening of women who come to health institutions either for screening or with certain health issues. This was the easiest way to do it. Now, we are moving to the tougher part - population-level screening,” T. S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said.

Under this, health staff will identify all women aged above 30 years in a particular area, line-list them and give them a request letter to come and get screened, he said, adding: “Of this, 50% may come for screening and we will call the remaining 50% again over a period of time. The village health nurses, women health volunteers and staff nurses will be involved in the initiative,” he added.

Basic screening would be done at the Primary Health Centre level. “The most practical screening method for a mass scale is Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid for cancer of the cervix and breast self examination for breast cancer,” he said.

Every woman should regularly do a self examination and come back for the smallest suspicion, he said, adding in case of a suspicion on clinical examination, mammogram would be done.

The official said the department would try and map the nearest health institution. “If cancer diagnosis is confirmed, we will maintain a longitudinal list for every individual who is positive. She will undergo colposcopy, and if we suspect a lesion, histopathology will be next. Based on the diagnosis, treatment will be initiated,” he added.

“We expect that the women will come into our fold over a period of time. Screening and tests will be repeated after three years for women who are negative. If diagnosed, we have treatment packages under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme. This is a proactive way to reach women,” Dr. Selvavinayagam said.

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