Every eight minutes a woman succumbs to breast cancer in India and with 165,000 new cases being annually reported, breast cancer has overtaken cervical cancer to become the commonest cancer affecting women in the country, said leading breast surgeon Dr P. Raghu Ram.
"Even more alarming is that, when compared to the West where breast cancer presents most often after 50 years, in India, breast cancer presents at least a decade earlier with peak incidence in younger women between 40-50 years. More than 70 per cent present in the advanced stages," said Ram, the Director of KIMS-Ushalakshmi Centre for Breast Diseases.
In his address at 10th annual Conference of The Association of Breast Surgeons of India (ABSICON 2022), inaugurated by KNR University of Health Sciences Vice Chancellor, Dr Karunakar Reddy, Ram said since breast cancer can't be prevented, the only way to fight the disease is through early detection.
The government must focus upon creating much more awareness about the importance of early detection by addressing the "taboo" issue surrounding the disease, particularly in rural India where more than 70 per cent of the population reside in addition to streamlining the pan-India implementation of the population-based Breast Cancer Screening programme, which is already functional through the National Health Mission, he said.
Ram said that the Association of Breast Surgeons of India (ABSI) must play a lead role in developing the concept of breast care nurses, who will play a pivotal role in supporting, comforting and reassuring patients and their relatives.
"I look forward to ABSI evolving into a truly multidisciplinary organisation with integration of breast radiologists and breast pathologists in its fold, who are, in fact, the eyes and ears to a breast surgeon," he said.
The ABSI represents general surgeons, surgical oncologists and plastic surgeons and has rapidly emerged to become the voice for surgeons all over India practicing the art and science of breast surgery.
For the first time, it is ABSI is partnering with The Association of Breast Surgery in the UK (ABS UK), and the Breast Imaging Society of India (BISI), which represents radiologists.
Ram, who is Chairman of Organising Committee for ABSICON 2022, said a conscious effort has been made to bring together three Associations under one platform to emphasise the importance of multidisciplinary care in assessment and management of breast cancer.
ABSI President Dr S.P. Somashekhar commended Ram for his outstanding leadership role in nurturing ABSI since its inception. "Most breast cancer surgeries in the country are done by general surgeons. I am proud of the various initiatives implemented by the Association to improve the knowledge and skill sets of Surgeons, particularly in smaller towns across India through the implementation of ABSI Training Module in addition to funding bright young surgeons to train at world renowned centres of excellence in the UK."
Dr Karunakar Reddy said he was happy to note that the three-day conference will deliberate about the best evidence based practice guidelines covering every aspect of breast cancer care, advocacy, early detection and benign non cancer related breast health issues as well.
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