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Yash Tiwari
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Nearly one-fourth of women in India die of breast cancer, compared to less than half that number in the United States and comparable countries. In addition to late diagnoses, patients face several other hurdles: Stigma about receiving care for breast cancer — many doctors refuse to write prescriptions for chemotherapy and artificial nipples for mastectomy patients, citing religious beliefs or family pressure, according to cancer experts. Inadequate access to treatment centers and counselors in poor areas. One reason the mortality is high among breast cancer patients in India could be the delay in detection of the disease. Yet, another reason could be low awareness and knowledge.

According to the statistics presented by the society, every year, as many as 1.2 lakh new cases of breast cancer and 0.41 million deaths are accounted for globally. The total number of deaths is twice that of annual cases and South East Asia is having the highest number of breast cancer patients. The concerns over poor awareness of BC symptoms among women in India have been accelerated by the observation that more and more women are visiting the health facility after the stage of breast cancer has become ‘inoperable.’

It is evident from the findings of this study that women are not sufficiently aware of the symptoms of breast cancer and the risk factors associated with it. The result also highlights that most women tend to neglect the warning signs of the disease and do not pay attention to preventive steps. Furthermore, the present study did not reveal any positive aspects but revealed some enlightening facts about early detection of breast cancer, its symptoms, risk factors, impact on life and how can regular screening plays an important role in saving lives.

Women should be aware of the risk factors and symptoms associated with breast cancer. This will enable them to make an informed decision about their diet and lifestyle, which can reduce their chances of developing the disease. There is a lack of awareness and education in areas of the general public in regards to breast cancer. Breast cancer accounts for 23 percent of deaths among all cancers which amounts to over 315, 000 deaths yearly in India.

Nearly all (95%) of the women aware of breast cancer had ever heard or read about it. When asked if they have ever talked to someone about breast cancer, 65% said yes and 35% said no. We then asked those who did (65%) if there was anyone specific health person they would like to talk to them. Close to a third (31%) said doctors, followed by 24% who mentioned a family planning worker/midwife and 5% who referred to a nurse. There is a strong difference in awareness of breast cancer between women with higher education and those with lower education. This may be attributed to the role of mass media in spreading information about health issues and diseases.