M A I N   N E W S

Indian women ‘wary’ of mastectomy

New Delhi, May 15
Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie's decision to go public about her double mastectomy to reduce the risk of breast cancer has been hailed as a brave move, but in India, doctors say there is very little awareness about it and many women are wary of taking the step due to societal pressure and apprehensions.

Many doctors said they have rarely seen a case in India. Ami Bhargava, a senior cancer specialist with Max Hospital, said in his 17-year-long career, he has seen only two women undergo voluntary mastectomy.

Jolie on Tuesday came out in public in a bid to encourage other women to go in for a mastectomy as a preventive measure. She underwent the procedure as her mother died of breast cancer aged 56.

Jolie carried a "faulty" gene, BRCA1, which sharply increased her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Bhargava said Jolie's public statement will encourage other women to come forward.

"Jolie is an international celebrity and that makes a difference. She was bold enough to talk about it. Women in India feel scared even taking the test, forget about undergoing the procedure," Bhargava said.

Shyam Agrawal, chairperson, oncology department of Sir Ganga Ram hospital, said many women are deterred by the cost of the test.

"The test for detecting the gene in women with a family history of breast cancer is pretty costly at Rs 40,000 per test. This prevents most women from undergoing it," he said.

Agrawal said another major problem is the attitude of the people. "Most women feel they do not need to know their status for if they test positive, they would always be under stress that they might develop cancer at a later stage. People want to live in ignorance," he said. — IANS

Preventive measure

  • Angelina Jolie’s mother died of breast cancer aged 56
  • Jolie carried a "faulty" gene - BRCA1 - which sharply increased her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer





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