The state government is all set to undertake a herculean task of screening the entire population of Punjab for early signs of cancer. The exercise,to be luanched in the next few months,will include setting up of basic cancer treatment units in the existing district hospitals and the three state-run medical colleges.
The population would be screened for susceptibility to the disease as Punjab is being seen as a state with high incidence of cancer cases,principal health secretary,Vini Mahajan,said.
Currently we have only anecdotal evidence of cancer being more common in certain geographical areas in Punjab. There is no scientific data available that shows that population in certain pockets in Punjab have a high risk of cancer. As a result it was felt that the entire population be screened, Mahajan said.
To begin with a team of doctors from PGIMER,Chandigarh,would be collaborating with a team of doctors from the three state-run medical colleges and prepare a comprehensive questionnaire to be used during the screening. This would be followed by a training of the first rung of medical and paramedical staff,which would be involved in further training staff across the state to conduct the screening.
We are expecting problems,but we are ready to take up the challenge, Mahajan said,adding,that at the ground level,the auxiliary nursing-midwives (ANMs) and the Asha staff – already functioning as health workers under the National Rural Health Mission – would move house-to-house and get the questionnaire filled.
In case the family history or any recent symptoms of the person show signs of susceptibility to cancer,the health worker would direct that person to the nearest government hospital where further tests can be carried out and the requisite treatment started.
The aim is to not only out a study for data purposes but also intervene at an early stage of the cancer when it is curable, said Mahajan.
The screening is an exercise independent of the the cancer registry which is the registration of all those who have been found to be suffering from cancer. Only after these two efforts are on track will we be able to conclude about which set of population is showing a higher incidence of cancer, said Mahajan.
Earlier,last year in October,the state government had issued a notification making it mandatory for all public and private hospitals to report the details of the cancer patient within a week of diagnosis or suspicion.