Oncologist Perspectives on Breast Cancer Screening in India-Results from a Qualitative Study in Andhra Pradesh

  • Published : 2013.10.30


Background: It is important to understand the perceptions of oncologists to understand the comprehensive picture of clinical presentation of breast cancer. In the absence of clear evidence, clinical practice involving patients of breast cancer in India should provide insights into stages of breast cancer with which women present to their clinics and mode of screening of breast cancer prevalent in Andhra Pradesh. Materials and Methods: A qualitative study was conducted to understand the perceptions of oncologists regarding clinical presentation of breast cancer, stages at which women present to clinics, and mode of screening of breast cancer prevalent in Andhra Pradesh. In-depth interviews (IDI) were conducted with ten practising oncologists from various public and private cancer hospitals in Hyderabad city to understand their perspectives on breast cancer and screening. The data were triangulated to draw inferences suitable for the current public Health scenario. Results: Late presentation was indicated as the most important cause of decreased survival among women. Most women present at Stage 3 and 4 when there is no opportunity for surgical intervention. The results indicate that there is a huge gap in awareness about breast cancer, especially in rural areas and among poor socioeconomic groups. Even despite knowledge, most women delay in reporting due to reasons like fear, embarrassment, cost, ignorance, negligence, and easy going attitude. Conclusions: It is important to improve awareness about breast cancer and screening methods for promoting early screening. The study inferred that it would be beneficial to establish cancer registries in rural areas. Also, the policymakers need to make key decisions which among three methods (breast self examination (BSE), clinical breast examination and mammography) can best be used as a screening tool and how to successfully implement population wide screening program to prevent mortality and morbidity from breast cancer in India.


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