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Tactile breast examination emerges as viable screening technique for early diagnosis in India

Published by Pharmabiz

Tactile Breast Examination (TBE) has emerged as a viable screening technique for its early diagnosis in India, according to a validation study started by the CK Birla Hospital for Women, Gurugram and National Association of Blind (NAB) India in March 2019.

It was done in collaboration with Bayer Crops Science Group in India and Discovering Hands, Germany.

TBE is a unique breast screening technique that uses the highly developed sensory skills of visually impaired women for manual breast health screening.

The study revealed that the technique which was developed by Dr Frank Hoffmann saw a high level of sensitivity in the early detection of breast cancer among women screened in Delhi NCR over the last three months. Dr Hoffmann pioneered the internationally accepted discovering hands concept and TBE technique.

Commenting on the findings emerging from the study, Dr Mandeep Malhotra, director, surgical oncology and The Breast Centre, CK Birla Hospital for Women said, “The country is witnessing a steady rise in incidence of breast cancer (11.54 per cent, Globocan 2012) and also mortality due to the disease (13.82 per cent, Globocan 2012). In urban areas, one in 22 women are likely to suffer from breast cancer during their lifetime. Of these, 50 per cent may not survive within five years of diagnosis. Inadequate screening and advanced stage of presentation are the contributors to the rising death toll.  Early detection by effective screening protocols is the possible solution.”

The manual breast screening methods in the form of Self Breast Examination (SBE) and Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) are also sparingly used. SBE is limited by the lack of proper knowledge and confidence and CBE by the lack of sufficient time and resources. In the process of finding a possible solution for early detection, we evaluated the enhanced touch (Tactile Sensation) of a visually impaired (Blind) women, called as Medical Tactile Examiner (MTE), who have been trained to conduct Breast Examination (Discovering hands concept).

In the last 4 months, more than 500 random women from Gurgaon other parts of Delhi NCR have undergone TBE along with Ultrasound Breast for less than 40 years and Mammogram for more than 40 years of age. The initial trends suggest very high level of sensitivity for detecting breast lesions. Changes were detected in 30 per cent women, 40 per cent of which were confirmed by radiology and 20 per cent had cancerous or precancerous changes. Majority of them were still at stage I and stage II.

Speaking on the occasion, Avanti Birla, founder, CK Birla Hospital for Women, said, “The CK Birla Group is deeply committed to creating sustainable positive impact. Over the last 150 years, the Group has allocated significant resources to philanthropic initiatives. Going forward, a large part of the Group’s impact activities will be focused on Women and Healthcare, in line with our commitment to promoting Diversity not just in our workplace but also in communities around us. HFW Foundation, a charitable institution, is an expression of this commitment. The CK Birla Hospital for Women is working on various initiatives including breast ancer. The HFW Foundation will be supporting this cause.”

Akshat Seth, chief operating officer, CK Birla Hospital for Women added, “One of the first initiatives of the HFW Foundation will be on building awareness for Breast health and improving access to Breast screening. With a breast cancer prevalence rate of 1 in 22 in urban areas, the focus of the Foundation will be on early detection, through TBE, to improve the chances of survival and organ preservation. Initially, the Foundation will work with communities in and around Delhi NCR and then in other parts of the country as well.”

Shalini Khanna, director, National Association of Blind (NAB)women has been working towards skilling blind women on life skills and employability for over 20 years. She was instrumental in getting Discovering Hands project to India with support from Bayer Crop Science. NAB got the trainers trained in Germany and has trained 14 visually impaired girls as Medical Tactile Examiners (MTEs) till now in pilot phase. The trained MTEs are currently running camps at various corporates, through local Rotary clubs and at various Resident Welfare Associations.