Breast cancer kills tens of thousands of women every year in India. Those in rural environments may not have access to healthcare facilities in order to receive check ups, leading to late stage cancer development before treatment is obtained by the patient. This lack of early detection could lead to a far higher risk of mortality in rural environments.
Hyderabad based company Innominds have developed a prototype portable wireless tele-medicine device to pre-screen for breast cancer, the iSquare Mobility. The intention of the device is to fill the gaps in rural healthcare where facilities are limited. By making the device portable, this could allow for many villages and towns to hold regular screenings.
There is the potential for an epidemic of breast cancer in India if early diagnosis is not made a priority claims a study published in the Journal of Business Research. This highlights the importance of devices such as iSquare Mobility, which could provide regular checkups to those in rural environments with limited access to screening facilities.
The study claims that a key aspect of addressing breast cancer in India is the education of men regarding the issue. Due to cultural and religious matters in the country many women are reluctant to seek help from doctors who are, in many rural areas, primarily men. Women may also be reluctant to seek medical care for themselves in all but the most dire of circumstances, as they are more focused on family obligations.
The study adds that traditional marketing campaigns have failed in raising awareness, and that community nurses may be a better root to encouraging women to arrange for check ups, or to receive treatment. Through grassroots campaigns involving community workers and nurses, men can also be encouraged to ensure their family members have been receiving check ups.
Breast cancer is proving to be a rising healthcare challenge in India. 70,218 Indian women died of breast cancer in 2012, Deaths related to the disease are predicted to increase to 76,000 by 2020. The average age of incidence is also predicted to see an alarming shift, from 50 to 30. Indicating a much younger demographic being affected, one less expected to be prone to the condition and so less likely to take the initiative to arrange a check up.
Implicated in the rise in the prevalence and earlier onset age of breast cancer has been India’s rapid shift to urbanisation. Due to its consistently growing economy and expanding urban environments, many Indian women are moving to cities and adopting what is considered to be a more western lifestyle. With this comes the economic benefits but also many negative factors such as a more sedentary lifestyle and a more common consumption of fast food. Many of these aspects of the urban lifestyle are risk factors of breast cancer.
The high death toll is elevated by the fact that many women will not seek help until the cancer has already developed. Missing the opportunity for the more simple , early stage treatments and allowing the cancer to develop into late stages significantly raises the risk of death. The cancer has the chance to metastasise, spreading through the bloodstream to develop tumours elsewhere, making the cancer far more difficult, or even impossible to treat.
With cancer projected to rise in India over the coming years, awareness campaigns involving grassroots involvement are vital. Alongside this, there have been calls to fast track the development, and the approval of oncology related medications and devices. In order to fully address the situation in the coming years, India will need to ensure a comprehensive approach, or face a consistently rising number of cancer cases across the country. The strategy for cancer treatment in India may need devices such as iSquare Mobility in order to address cancer instances in rural environments.