On May 22, Aaroogya Foundation and Silicon Valley Global Health released their second podcast episode on “Advancing Women’s Agency: COVID-19 & Its Implications on Breast Cancer in India.” The speakers of the podcast were Dr. PK Julka from India, former Padma Shri awardee, and the Principal Director at Max Oncology Daycare Centre in New Delhi, India, and Dr. Priyanjali Datta, a former ‘Top 50 Global Healthcare Leaders’ recipient and co-founder of Aaroogya Foundation. The discussion was hosted by Martine Bolsens Peetermans, CEO, Silicon Valley Global Health. The debate revolved around the implications of the recent coronavirus outbreak on treatment and diagnosis of breast cancer in India.
Poor lifestyle habits like tobacco smoking, alcohol overconsumption, and an unhealthy diet can significantly raise the risk of contracting breast cancer, Dr. Julka expresses. Additionally, the heavy metals found in some local Indian medicines raise the likelihood as well, while also causing liver damage. While daily exercise, a healthy diet, utilizing globally certified medicines, and avoiding the consumption of toxic substances are all of primary importance to hindering the likelihood of being infected with cancer, preventative measures like self-examination and screening are also absolutely necessary to catch any potentially cancerous entities early enough to be treated cheaply, quickly, and efficiently.
As Dr. Datta accounts, the stigma surrounding cancer—its reputation as a fatal disease with crippling treatment expenses—provides an obstacle for Asha workers when counseling at-risk women to visit health care centers for treatment or precautionary ultrasounds or mammograms. This hurdle has worsened in the past year as potential cancer patients on a global scale have been less willing to get screened for cancerous growth because of COVID-19. In Belgium, one study found that 44% of cancer patients delayed their cancer treatment because of COVID-19. In India, 20-25% of patients delayed their scanning and diagnoses because of COVID. However, as Dr. Julka asserts, Indian health care centers are actually still conducting full treatments for cancer, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery for breast cancer. To those at high risk of contracting cancer, do not wait until the pandemic is eradicated to get treated, Dr. Julka pleads; visit a cancer screening center and get triaged as soon as cancerous growth is suspected. If patients do visit a health care facility early enough, Dr. Datta says, the necessary diagnostic scanning and even treatments are often subsidized or free.
If you are interested in learning more, view the episode at the link below: