In a bid to detect and prevent increasing incidences of cancer in the state of Punjab, Core diagnostics, the leading high end clinical laboratory in India, the Government of Punjab and Max Healthcare launched probably the world’s largest cancer screening camp to date to screen 1 lakh people in 22 cities across the state on September 28 and 29.
Youngsters, older citizens and even children thronged the camp on both the days in large numbers across the 22 government hospitals designated for the same.
“We are satisfied with the response,” said Zoya Brar, Founder, Core Diagnostics, India. Core Diagnostics is an organisation dedicated to increasing awareness about the importance of correct, timely diagnosis and correct prognosis.
At a public event earlier, to launch the initiative, Punjab CM Prakash Singh Badal had said, “The Punjab Government has a dedicated fund of Rs 200 crore for cancer treatment in the state, and each patient receives Rs 1.5 lakh from it. Punjabis have a habit of sitting over a disease till it reaches an alarming stage. I appeal to the people to get checked in this camp so that there can be early detection and treatment.”
Zoya however feels that “Sitting over a disease may not be a Punjabi phenomenon, but a much larger phenomenon in India, especially among women who always ignore their own health or compromise spending on it.’ She cites the example of breast cancer testing which illustrates this point. ‘A test used to detect HER2 by IHC (cost approximately INR2000) is a subjective technique for breast cancer treatment selection and may not comprehensively determine whether Herceptin treatment will work. Patients could mistakenly go ahead and spend lakhs of rupees on the treatment without being aware that another test by the FISH technique (cost approximately INR10000) is conclusive on whether this treatment will work.’
The cancer belt of Punjab has 136 incidences of cancer per 1 lakh of the population and data collected from the last five years has shown that, on an average, 18 people die of cancer each day in Punjab.
As a part of this camp, patients were targeted to be mobilized by the Government machinery from all 22 districts and brought to the district government hospitals and three medical colleges of Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot University. These patients were then examined by cancer specialists and underwent the required diagnostic tests for cancer detection.
Core Diagnostics provided a range of diagnostic tests for cancer detection in this camp. This also included awareness campaign for the patients and families attending the camp, referrals for oncology diagnostic testing as a follow-up to the camp. Core also gave out coupons to those patients who did not want to do the test at the venue, but may want to avail of it later.
“It will take us about a fortnight to evaluate the samples and give back reports to the people. Early detection will allow easier treatment and reduced mortality. Cancer is a controllable disease if detected and treated at the right time. The economic and social cost implications of cancer to the society run into crores of rupees that include direct and indirect costs both to the family and to the society, due to expenditure on treatment and reduced productivity” says Dr. Ajay Pandita, Chief Scientific Officer at Core Diagnostics.