In an effort to create awareness about cervical cancer, the National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH), Parel and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have initiated street plays in the city advocating early detection of the disease.
“We resorted to the concept of a street play because it is easier to explain the disease to the public through a story,” said Dr Balaiah Donta, principal investigator and senior deputy director of NIRRH. “Cervical cancer is curable if detected early, but a majority of the patients reach the hospital at an advanced stage.
The ongoing campaign that started a week ago is a result of a six-month survey conducted in March 2011 to study the awareness levels about cervical cancer among couples living around the civic-run Babasaheb Ambedkar Maternity Hospital, Vikhroli and Savitribai Phule Maternity Hospital at Bhandup. Of 1020 couples surveyed, only 27% wives and 7.5 % husbands were aware of cervical cancer. Of these 27% wives, only 15.6 % were aware of PAP smear test.
The aim of survey was to chalk out intervention strategies – street plays being one of them – to encourage women to undergo PAP smear test to detect the disease.
“In a PAP smear test, precancerous cells that can lead to malignancy can be detected. If proper treatment is administered, the possibility of developing cervical cancer that could lead to mortality can be reduced,” said Dr B N Mali, cytologist and senior consulting scientist, NIRRH, adding that every woman should undergo a PAP smear test to rule out cervical cancer after completing two years of marriage.