Breast cancer helpline launched in India

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday launched one of its kind national one-to-one national breast cancer and benign breast disease helpline, instituted by the Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation.

Launched on the eve of the beginning of international breast cancer awareness month (October), it aims to raise awareness, spread hope and fuel the fight against the disease.

Citizens can have their queries and worries about breast health issues resolved by a team of breast cancer ‘conquerors’, counselors and dieticians by dialing +91-08046983383.

In his remarks on the occasion, Naidu appreciated Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation founder, director and CEO Dr. P. Raghu Ram for spearheading this path-breaking initiative under the auspices of a not for profit breast cancer charity based out of Telangana.

Appreciating the group of breast cancer ‘conquerors’ who will be leading the helpline, he said that their efforts and unwavering commitment towards spreading awareness about breast cancer were praiseworthy, especially because they themselves had gone through the gruelling treatment for it.

Appreciating the inclusion of trained counsellors in the helpline for one-on-one confidential support to the callers, Naidu said that counselling is an inseparable part of the entire cancer treatment protocol or any other life-threatening medical condition.

“Counsellors can help in keeping the patients motivated to fight the illness spiritedly,” he added.

Commending UBF HELP for making available every facet of breast cancer and benign non-cancer breast health issues in the Helpline’s Resource Section of the website in English and 11 other Indian languages, Naidu pointed that breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, with around 2.3 million new cases being diagnosed each year and around 6.85 lakh women succumbing to it annually.

Noting that at least one-third of common cancers are preventable, he said: “It is imperative that people are made aware of the early signs of cancer so that they can get immediate treatment and increase their chances of survival.”

Dr Raghu Ram said there was robust evidence from the west to suggest that a dedicated breast cancer helpline providing emotional support and evidence-based information would ensure patients finish their treatment schedule, experience less distress, cherish improved quality of life, and have better outcomes.

“What makes this initiative unique is that a group of passionate breast cancer conquerors who have been through the gruelling grind of breast cancer treatment alongside a team of trained counsellors would be providing one to one confidential support. This is the first dedicated national helpline in India that addresses issues relating to both breast cancer and non-cancer benign breast health issues as well (far more common than breast cancer), which cause a lot of anxiety to patients. Nine out of 10 breast health issues are benign. So the Helpline also aims to reassure this segment of worried well who think they may have cancer, but in fact have only non cancer breast health issues.”

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