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Empowering the community for early detection of cancer: a rural community intervention programme in Kerala, India

Regi Jose, Paul Augustine, Anoop Amrith Lal, Libu GK, Jeesha C. Haran, Bennet Abraham.

Cancer is an emerging health problem in India. Breast, cervical and oral cancers are curable provided they are detected at an early stage. The best way to fight cancer is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Community participation is imperative for achieving and sustaining any progress in this direction. This study aims to show a model community intervention programme for cancer control in low resource settings using trained volunteers from the community through screening and creating public awareness. Community survey covered 5126 houses and 19991 individuals. Awareness classes and screening camps were conducted in all the twenty wards of the Panchayath. Prevalence of cancer and precancerous lesions in the Panchayath were 160 and 263 per 100000 populations respectively. Four new cases of cancer were detected during the programme. Early detection of cancer can be made possible by giving proper training and motivation to community volunteers who can educate, motivate, screen and conduct follow up in the community. Panchayats and NGOs can take a lead role and can take this as model for their cancer screening programmes.

Key words: Cancer, Early detection, Community volunteers, Empowerment, Screening

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