In February, a nationwide early cancer-screening programme for women was launched in Mumbai by Indian Cancer Society and AstraZeneca Pharma India Limited. The cancer-awareness initiative – Cancer Screening for Women – will conduct free, specialised cancer screening for women from underprivileged backgrounds across the country. The first screening camp to mark this launch was held on World Cancer Day at Indian Cancer Society, Mumbai, where over 100 women were screened.

The screening camps focus on prevalent cancers such as oral, cervical and breast, and will follow a predefined process to link suspect cases with healthcare facilities for further management. The programme also aims to raise awareness about risk factors, symptoms, removing stigma, and promoting healthy lifestyle for cancer prevention.

In Phase 1 of this programme, around 4,000 women will be screened in high-priority district areas identified in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The screening will be facilitated through mobile detection units with qualified technicians. In Phase 2, the screening camps will be expanded to states in North and Northeast India. The programme is scheduled to run for the next few years.

CB’s questions on frequency of such camps, follow-up healthcare facilities, and the exact start date of Phase 2 did not receive a response from the organisations.

In a press release, Naveen Kshatriya, honorary secretary & managing trustee of Indian Cancer Society, said, ‘With the increasing incidence of cancer cases in women, there is an urgent need to raise awareness about early cancer detection at grassroots level. With this initiative, we aim to enable people to stay ahead of cancer through early detection and timely treatment.’’

Commenting on the occasion, Gagan Singh, country president and managing director, AstraZeneca Pharma India Limited, said, ‘We are pleased to partner with Indian Cancer Society to achieve our shared vision of curing cancer through early detection. Women’s health is integrally linked to access to available resources and we believe that opportunistic screening with a robust framework to link them to the healthcare system is an important pathway to address this challenge.’