Students take part in cancer awareness meet

An awareness talk was organised by The Hindu FIC and Omega Cancer Hospitals jointly to create awareness for teachers and senior Intermediate students on the occasion of World Cancer Day, at APSW Residential School and Junior College, Meghadrigedda, here on Thursday.

Students and teachers listened in rapt attention as B. Ravi Shankar, Medical Oncologist and MD of Omega Cancer Hospitals, spoke on various aspects of breast and cervical cancers, such as causes, risk factors and preventive measures.

Dr. Ravi Shankar explained that lack of awareness among women, especially those living in slums and rural areas, was a major factor for the detection of breast and cervical cancer at a late stage, resulting in deaths. About 70% of cancers could be attributed to causes like smoking, irregular and improper diet, genetic and viral infections, he said.

He appealed to the participants to watch out for breast cancer symptoms which include swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit, changes in size or shape of the breast, nipple discharge, rash or crusting, and changes in colour or skin texture.

Dr. Ravi Shankar explained that women who do not maintain proper hygiene of their private parts run a greater risk of getting cervical cancer. The symptoms of cervical cancer include bleeding in post-menopausal women, vaginal discharge, bleeding after sexual intercourse, inter-menstrual bleeding and prolonged bleeding. A vaccine to prevent cervical cancer was available and this would give 60 to 70% protection, he said.

Replying to queries from the participants, Dr. Ravi Shankar said that the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine should be taken after a girl attains maturity and again before marriage. To another question, he said that pancreatic cancer was difficult to diagnose early and the symptoms would be known through indications like jaundice, stomach pain and changes in bowel movements. The State Government was considering administering the HPV free of cost to all the girl students studying in government schools, he added.

N, Sanjeeva Rao, District Coordinator of APSWR Schools, Visakhapatnam district, appealed to the students and teachers to spread the message and take the details of the precautionary measures given by the medical experts.

School principal Padmaja and GM-Operations of Omega Cancer Hospital G.V.N. Ravindranath also spoke on the occasion.

Later, a free screening programme was organised for the participants.

Y. Gopika Sumanthi, a student of senior Intermediate, daughter of a breast cancer survivor, said that the interactive session has helped her understand cancer better. Another girl of the same class, Ch. Esther Rani, said that she could now educate others about cancer in a better way.

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