Women suffer the most from breast cancer. And, there are several ‘avoidable’ reasons that keep them away from getting diagnosed at an early stage.
Worse so, a few women are even abandoned by their families at government hospitals when they are in critical stages of cancer. All of this calls for a need to generate more awareness about breast cancer.
According to the “Profile of Cancer and Related Factors - Telangana”, released by National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR) of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the leading site of cancer among woman is breast. In the State, around 35 out of every 100 cancer patients has malignant tumour in breast.
One of the main factors why families abandon women with breast cancer is the myth that cancer is contagious. Some others think that cancer is not treatable. Also, some families do not want to spend on its treatment.
Multiple reasons are keeping women away from getting diagnosed in early stages. Those who provide palliative care said that some women prioritise their family needs before their health, some hesitate to talk about lumps in breast, lack of awareness about early symptoms of the cancer, and not consulting doctors or healthcare workers at the first inkling, were leading to disastrous consequences and eventually death.
Palliative care centres, and MNJ Institute of Oncology and Cancer Research Centre witness regular flow of patients who are terminally ill. Senior counsellors at the Pain Relief and Palliative Care Society at Kukatpally attend hundreds of terminally ill patients, including women with breast cancer.
Founder member of the society Dr. Gayatri Palat said that they have come across many cases where women were diagnosed with breast cancer in late stages as they wanted to consult a doctor or undergo tests after their children’s marriage or construction of home.
“In some cases, women with advanced stages of cancer were abandoned at hospitals. If cancer is detected in early stages, it is curable. People should come forward for early check ups,” said Dr. Gayatri, who is also a consultant, and palliative care physician at MNJ Hospital.
Senior counsellor at the rehabilitation centre S. Anuradha said that apart from being shy of talking about cancer, other reasons for late diagnosis are relying on alternative medicine, brushing away early symptoms when lumps are not painful.
“We have come across cases where husbands tried to dump women when cancer resurfaced. When a man marries another woman, it deeply impacts a terminally ill woman,” she said.