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Women are forging ahead in many new sectors which were hitherto considered male bastions. Adding to their achievements, the visually impaired and blind women are being trained in detection of breast cancer. In a unique initiative, the women in Delhi are being trained to detect breast cancer by medical tactile examination. According to a report in Hindustan Times ( Kabir Singh Bhandari, updated October 14, 2018, ), The National Association for the Blind (NAB) Centre for Blind Women and Disability Studies in collaboration with Discovering Hands, Germany, has started training for the women so that they will be able to detect early signs of breast cancer.

The article commemorating world sight day quotes Shalini Khanna, Director of NAB, ” We were contacted by Discovering Hands, Germany in 2015 and they told us about the programme where blind women through a manual check up can detect early signs of breast cancer. Along with Dr. Kanchan Kaur who is associate Director at the Breast Services in Mendata Medicity Gurgaon, I went to Germany to thoroughly check this system since we had our doubts about it. However we realized that the blind women were conducting the examination in the same manner as medical professionals, but with more concentration and focus”.

Explaining the procedure, Khanna says, ” There is a five day assessment period during we check certain skills that are imperative for them to be chosen for the course, and a lot of them do not succeed during this test. Also the women have to be over 18, and their age and maturity is an important criterion. After all, they are looking for a tumour! We coach them so that they’re comfortable about their own bodies and examining others. Breasts are something we don’t really talk about much in India. ”

Procedure

Medical Tactile Examiners ( MTEs) assist doctors in detecting tumours leading to breast cancer. They use tactile strips with Braille markings on breast region that is divided into four parts – breasts, underarm area till rib region, back and neck region. If examination reveals a lump, braille markings can indicate exact points. MTEs jot down the findings on tactile graph for doctor. Manual checks can detect lumps as small as 0.5 cms. Neha Suri is among the first seven member batch of blind women to be trained for the job.(Ambika Pundit, updated Sep 30, 2018, timesofindia,indiatimes.com). She is part of a pilot that seeks to make differently- abled inclusion real. Neha will be working with a team of doctors at Fortis hospital, Vasant Kunj ( Delhi) to encourage women undergo non- invasive preventive check-ups.

Trained MTEs use ‘ optimal sensory touch’ which involves putting just enough pressure and releasing it with fingers that move from one centimeter to the other covering the entire breast region.

Dr . Frank Hoffman, German Gynecologist who was behind ‘ Discovering Hands ‘ project argues that because of their disability, blind possess more accurately developed sense of touch which has proved to be valuable asset in breast examination.( Nick Wade and Joana Krause- Palfner, Blind women help detect breast cancer, updated Jul 30, 2009, cnn.com). A study at the Essen University’s womens ‘s clinic Germany concluded that MTUs found more smaller tumours than doctors in 450 cases.

A new hope for visually disabled women

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in India. Its incidence is about 24 in 100, 000 population. Early detection is key to cure of the dreaded disease.

Shalini Khanna feels that MTEs can fill up the vacuum that currently exists in preventive check – up category.

The initiative to execute this innovative program in hospitals has been taken up by Dr Mandeep Singh Malhotra, Head,Surgical Oncology and his team of doctors at FLT , LT Rajan DhallFortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj. A lot of women come from background where being blind is unbearable to family. The family ignores them. Sweta Verna, one of the MTEs recounts her emotional journey and feels happy as she got work and her family talks to her. ( newsapexs.com). Her message to blind individuals and parents is that they should be given support. There are many centers where the disabled can be enrolled for training and make their parents proud of their work.

The writer from anywhere and everywhere supports independent living for differently abled persons

2 Comments

  1. Sally Dugman says:

    People need to be responsible for their own self-care. They need education, which means educating yourself. … I refuse to have breast x-rays every two years. … Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family traits and we have enough radiation from other sources.

    I do not let my doctor tell me what to do. It is my body and MY life. I have to be proactive, but I do let my doctor advise me on all sorts of issues. I also have to research them, myself, and advise my doctor. … No doctor is a god and some are mediocre. So we have to stand up for ourselves regardless of the health issue.

    In that vein, women and men (since even men get breast cancer) need to know:

    Breast Self-Exam – National Breast Cancer Foundation
    https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam

    Once a Month. Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. Johns Hopkins Medical center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”

    Breast Self-Exam: How to Check for Lumps and … – Breastcancer.org
    https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam

    Aug 16, 2018 – Try to get in the habit of doing a breast self-examination once a month to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel.

    How to do a Breast Self-Exam (BSE) – Maurer Foundation
    https://www.maurerfoundation.org/…breast-cancer-breast…/how-to-do-a-bse-breast-se…

    A breast self-examination (BSE) is a technique which allows an individual to examine his/her breast tissue for any physical or visual changes. It is often used as an early detection method for breast cancer. Both men and women should perform a BSE at least once each month beginning at age 18.

    Breast self-exam for breast awareness – Mayo Clinic
    https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-exam/about/pac-20393237

    Jul 3, 2018 – A breast self-exam for breast awareness is a safe way to become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts. However, there are some limitations and risks, including: Anxiety caused by finding a lump. Most of the changes or lumps women find in their breasts aren’t cancerous.

    Breast Self-Exam | Susan G. Komen®
    ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/BreastSelfExam.html

    Breast self-exam (BSE) is a step-by-step approach that a woman can use to look at … However, BSE is not recommended as a screening tool for breast cancer.

    Make a Breast Self-Exam Part of Your Monthly Routine
    https://reliantmedicalgroup.org/…/make-a-breast-self-exam-part-of-your-monthly-rout…

    Oct 2, 2017 – By Dr. Julie A. Alosi, Surgical Oncologist, Reliant Medical Group. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a great time to learn more about …

    Breast Cancer and the Breast Self-Exam – WebMD
    https://www.webmd.com › Breast Cancer › Guide

    Jump to

    What Should I Do if I Find a Lump? – It could be many things other than cancer. But do check in with your doctor’s office if you notice any new …

    Breast self-exam: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
    https://medlineplus.gov › Medical Encyclopedia

    Sep 9, 2017 – Read our article and learn more on MedlinePlus: Breast self-exam. … about the benefits of breast self-exams in finding breast cancer or saving lives. … The best time to do a monthly self-breast exam is about 3 to 5 days after …

  2. Sally Dugman says:

    In addition, the rate of breast cancer needs to be explored. What is causing it to be so high in some countries or regions and low in other ones? … If it is a matter of diet, pollution, pesticides, etc. — these all need to be examined. What makes incident rate higher or lower?

    [PDF]

    Epidemiology of Breast Cancer in Japan and the US
    www1.med.or.jp/english/journal/pdf/2009_01/039_044.pdf
    by K SAIKA – ‎

    Cited by 39 – ‎

    Related articles
    According to data on survival from population- based cancer registries in Japan, the 5-year rela- tive survival rate for women with breast cancer diagnosed from 1993 to 1996 was 83.1%.1 On the other hand, according to the SEER database in the US, the 5-year relative survival rate for patients diagnosed from 1993 to …

    Breast Cancer by Country: Rates for Canada, UK, USA and Asia
    https://breast-cancer.ca/httpbreast-cancer-camortratings/

    For women between 50 and 69 years old the mortality rate had dropped by 44% and for those over 70 years the decrease in deaths was 31%. According to the SEER statistics, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer in the US was 89.7% in 2013. This is slightly higher than for Canada.