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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 222-227

Community engaged breast cancer screening program in Kannur District, Kerala, India: A ray of hope for early diagnosis and treatment


1 Department of Community Oncology, Malabar Cancer Center, Thalassery, Kerala, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Government T.D Medical College, Alappuzha, Kerala, India
3 International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, The Union South East Asia Office, New Delhi, India
4 Academy for Public Health, Kozhikode, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Neethu Ambali Parambil
Department of Community Oncology, Malabar Cancer Center, Thalassery, Kerala
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijc.IJC_397_18

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INTRODUCTION: Community based programs can assist in early detection and improved survival of breast cancer. AIMS: To assess the feasibility and explore challenges of a district-wide door-to-door breast cancer screening program “ASWAS” conducted in Kannur district, Kerala, India from 2011 to 2014. METHODS: Aggregate data from survey records were collected in terms of the population screened, referred, diagnosed, and treated. Case records of breast cancer patients who were identified were reviewed and updated. In-depth interviews were conducted with program stakeholders. The contents of the interview were organized into a strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT) matrix to describe the screening program. RESULTS: A total of 1,049,410 eligible women above 30 years residing in 81 panchayats were visited door-to-door by 8,200 community volunteers; of them, 93% were screened using a symptom-risk factor checklist. Of those referred with symptoms (n = 5353), 81% attended the cancer camp. In total, 23 breast cancer cases were confirmed. 14 (61%) were in early stages, treated, and are disease free at 3-year follow-up. Those in the advanced stage and old age had poor outcomes. SWOT analysis identified political support, female volunteers, community engagement, dedicated fund for treatment, and teamwork as strengths. Weaknesses included poor healthcare access, maintaining volunteer motivation, and issues around sustainability. CONCLUSION: Community participation with the engagement of the health system and local self-government are required for implementing a comprehensive cancer screening strategy. Breast-cancer screening program using local volunteers for early detection is feasible in low-income settings, thereby improving survival.






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