Study: India must avoid a breast cancer epidemic

A lack of early diagnosis of breast cancer in India is leading the country towards an epidemic, it has been reported. 

According to a study published in the Journal of Business Research - which was the first of its kind to look at breast cancer in India - educating men could be key to encouraging women to seek help in the earlier stages of the disease. 

The research found that because of cultural and religious issues within the country, women do not access health services and are reluctant to consult male doctors. 

Women in India are also neglecting their own health due to family obligations and are often over-dependent on other family members to seek medical help. All of these factors play a part in delaying the diagnosis of breast cancer. 

It was also revealed that traditional marketing campaigns don’t seem to be raising enough awareness of the illness and that, instead, community nurses are the most effective channel. This is because community nurses are trusted in their local region by both male and female members. They also help men foster a better understanding about early symptoms and diagnosis. 

According to the research, these results underline the significance of India’s rapid economic development and urbanisation that is leading women towards a western lifestyle and in turn, a rise in breast cancer rates. 

The study argues that this issue is the biggest health threat facing India today. 

Judith Fletcher-Brown, from the University of Portsmouth, UK visited the country to explore the social, economic, cultural and institutional challenges in this emerging economy.

As author of the study she said: "India is still a patriarchal society and while women are now in responsible jobs and earning for their families, it's the men who are still the head of the household. 

"The emerging economy of India has presented women with new found economic independence and career opportunities but the lack of breast cancer awareness campaigns puts even these educated women at risk."ADNFCR-2094-ID-801839419-ADNFCR