Bengaluru, 9 July, 2024: India’s breast cancer burden is a pressing public health concern, with one woman diagnosed with it every four minutes.[i] Early detection forms a powerful measure which can turn the tide against the rising cases and support timely cancer care. Raising breast cancer awareness can transform the narrative from one of fear to one of knowledge, empowering women to proactively take charge of their health.

TATA

Dr. Shalaka Joshi, Surgical Oncologist, Tata Memorial Hospital, added, “Breast cancer affects 1 in 30 women in India, with incidence rates rising over the past 25 years. Early detection is crucial for achieving a high cure rate, with over 90% success at five years, if diagnosed early. Unfortunately, 60% of women in our country are diagnosed at an advanced stage due to a lack of awareness of early signs and symptoms, unavailability of screening, ignorance of personal health, and fear of treatment. Early-stage detection also leads to less intensive treatment and a better quality of life. In my clinical experience, many women ignore lumps in their breasts because they don’t cause pain, but it is vital to understand that painless lumps are not without risk. Young women can also develop breast cancer and should be watchful. Our mission is to address this ignorance and encourage women to be “breast aware” and seek medical attention early. Empowering women with this knowledge has the potential to significantly reduce the disease burden.”

Tata Trusts has been at the forefront of cancer care in India since the 1940s, from pioneering oncology research and treatment advancements to setting up a Comprehensive Cancer Care program. The Trusts has established screening kiosks and diagnostic units, collaborating with state governments and the National Health Mission to ensure access to high-quality and affordable care and support breast cancer screening programmes. Equally important as strengthening infrastructure and spearheading accessible and compassionate care is promoting awareness of breast cancer among women across the length and breadth of India.

With this aim, Tata Trusts unveiled a unique campaign, ‘Gaanth Pe Dhyan’ (‘Focus on the Lump’), which draws inspiration from the meticulous care that women put into cooking meals and preventing lumps from forming in their food to encourage women to apply the same attention to self-examining their breasts regularly for any sign of a ‘gaanth’ (lump).

Complementing its on-ground activation with local communities, the Trusts launched a social awareness film to nudge more women to prioritize their health and embrace self-care. Featuring Padma Shri recipient and eminent Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, the film is aimed at reaching and resonating with an engaged audience of women viewers. Creatively exploring the simple metaphor linking cooking and breast self-examination, the film hopes to inspire women to sign up for breast screening, encourage them not to neglect their health, and help save lives. This addresses the diverse range of factors that may result in delayed medical attention for women – from low awareness, social norms, and gender biases to dependence on other family members to seek medical help.

“At Tata Trusts we recognize the crucial role that awareness can play in educating women on the importance of early detection through self-breast examination. Gaanth pe Dhyan is our endeavor to use a simple everyday insight to nudge women to adopt this critical behavior change and prioritise their health. The resonance that women showed to this message during our community events across the country encouraged us to reach a wider audience through a film, striving to help them understand how simple and easy it is and how potentially life-changing it can be,” noted Shilpi Ghosh, Brand and Marketing Communications, Tata Trusts.

By prioritizing preventive and proactive healthcare practices, Tata Trusts aims to foster informed conversations, close critical gaps in awareness, and inspire united action. Efforts such as the social experiment film serve as powerful catalysts, creating a ripple of hope and health across communities, ensuring that every woman, regardless of background or location, receives the care she needs and finds support on her journey towards wellness.

By Mansi