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UBF Pink Ribbon Walk 2013 Curtain Raiser

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Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation Hyderabad, India Empowering women impacting Life

FIFTH EDITION OF PINK RIBBON WALK ON 6th October 2013 PAINT THE CITY PINK CAMPAIGN

Legislative Assembly & prominent buildings to turn PINK on 10th October 2013

Early detection of breast cancer must become a national priority

October is world over recognised as International Breast cancer Awareness month. Established in 2007, Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation (UBF) has completed SIX positively eventful years serving the Community in Andhra Pradesh. Over the years, under the auspices of UBF, a number of unique & innovative initiatives have been undertaken to create awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer, some of which have attracted National & International attention. Equally, through the pioneering initiatives of the Foundation, Breast cancer is no longer a ‘closet issue' - it is a much commonly discussed topic, thus bringing about the much needed awareness, the lack of which is one of the main reasons behind more than 50% of breast cancers presenting in the advanced stages, where very little can be done to save lives.

UBF is organising the FIFTH edition of Pink Ribbon Walk 2013, which has now become a benchmark event in Hyderabad on Sunday 6 October at 6.30 AM. The aims of the Walk are to create awareness about importance of early detection of breast cancer, salute survivors and their families in their fight against breast cancer & most importantly to spread the message of Hope, Courage and Survival in the fight against breast cancer.

In an effort to demonstrate the power of PINK, Legislative Assembly, Charminar, Buddha Statue & many other prominent buildings in the City will be illuminated in PINK on 1 October to mark the beginning of International Breast Cancer Awareness month. It may be recalled here that for the FIRST TIME EVER in the history of India, UBF partnered with Legislative Assembly in 2010, illuminating this historic building to create awareness about importance of early detection of breast cancer as part of the PAINT THE CITY PINK CAMPAIGN.

A short, innovative and thought provoking film on Breast cancer awareness made by eminent Filmmaker, Manishankar for UBF was released at the Press Meet. Eminent Classical Dancer & breast cancer ‘conqueror', Ananda Shankar Jayant, who featured in the Film spoke about how she fought the illness with courage and determination.

More than 1 million women worldwide are newly diagnosed with breast cancer annually. Worldwide, a woman dies of Breast cancer every minute. In India, well over 100, 000 women are newly diagnosed with breast cancer every year; a staggering number that has overtaken cervical cancer to become the leading cause for death among women in metropolitan cities. The figure is expected to increase to 130, 000 every year by 2020. This is only the tip of the iceberg, as many breast cancers are not reported to the Cancer Registry & many States do not have a robust Cancer Registry. More than 50% of breast cancers in India present in the advanced stage and hence death rate from breast cancer is also very high. Lack of awareness & absence of an organized National Breast cancer screening programme are the main reasons accounting for late presentation.

Although introduction of an organized population based Breast screening programme using Mammography is the best proven way of detecting cancers in the impalpable stage, it is not a viable option for mass screening in India due to the enormous costs involved, huge variation in Mammographic reporting & issues relating to quality assurance. Moreover, more than 87% of India’s population is under the age of 50 years, where screening by way of mammography is not effective at detecting early impalpable breast cancer (sensitivity of mammography is best over the age of 40 years)

There is indeed an urgent need to find an 'Indian solution to Indian problems’. In an endeavor to detect breast cancer in the early stage, Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation has partnered with the Govt, of Andhra Pradesh in August 2012 at introducing an innovative population based breast cancer Screening Programme as a pilot project in Hyderabad District - A FIRST OF ITS KIND INITIATIVE IN INDIA. Thus far, 28,437 underprivileged women have been screened for signs of early breast cancer by way of Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) - a screening tool, to detect early breast cancer. Thirteen early Breast Cancers were detected through this initiative, who are currently undergoing FREE treatment under the Rajiv Arogyasree Scheme.

Clinical breast examination (CBE), where trained Healthcare workers examine the breasts of women is relatively simple and inexpensive screening tool, and equally, there is considerable circumstantial evidence to show that CBE may be a viable screening option for a Country like India. Detecting breast cancers when they are small has a potential to help reduce mortality from this disease, and more importantly, will certainly create awareness about importance of early detection of breast cancer within the Community. The Government of India must consider Early detection of Breast cancer as a national priority & there is an urgent need for similar Pubic Private Partnerships to be implemented across the Country in the fight against breast cancer.

In conclusion, as breast cancer cannot be prevented, there are only TWO ways to fight the disease - FIRSTLY, women of all ages must be 'BREAST AWARE* and any new changes in the breast must be reported to the Specialist without delay. SECONDLY, for those women over 40, and those who can afford, an annual Screening mammogram is a must. However the vast majority of women (95%), cannot afford a screening mammogram in our Country. It is these women who will benefit from mass population based Screening by 'Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) performed by a trained healthcare worker. EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES - When breast cancer can is detected early, we can ensure good long term survival with excellent long term survival.

Dr. P. Raghu Ram
MS, FRCS (England), FRCS (Edinburgh), FRCS (Glasgow), FRCS (Ireland)
CEO & Director, Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation, Hyderabad
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