Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst urban Indian women, and the second most common female malignancy in women residing in rural India (ICMR cancer registries data). It remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Indian women. Majority of breast cancers in Indians are managed at relatively advanced stages, and the single most significant reason for this is lack of awareness about the disease amongst rural women. Social and cultural inhibitions so widely prevalent in the Indian society that prevent women from seeking and accepting appropriate and timely medical advise and treatment compound this problem. Efforts towards creating better awareness about early detection and appropriate treatment of breast cancer are thus likely to bring huge benefits to woman folk of this country. There are many methods for decreasing the morbidity and mortality of breast cancer, such as an appropriate screening program and making available state of art diagnostic and therapeutic facilities to the masses. Unfortunately, India lacks the financial resources to implement such breast health care interventions. As a result, not only is the infrastructure for effecting a screening and early diagnosis of breast cancer lacking, there are no guidelines available for these activities, as also widely acceptable and applicable cost-effective management protocols for use by a wide spectrum of health care providers.
Institutions like Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, besides being responsible for delivery of tertiary level health care and conducting teaching-training and research activities, also have a mandate of providing guiding recommendations to the health care providers in areas of wide public health consequences. The department of Endocrine Surgery, SGPGIMS has been offering Breast surgical services to patients attending SGPGI clinics since its inception in 1989. Breast surgery and management of benign and malignant breast conditions formed part of its services as well as teaching training and research activities. A new dimension of community services to create awareness of breast diseases as a whole and breast cancer in particular was added in 1995 with initiation of a collaboration with Cancer-aid society- a non-governmental organization. The department launched the “ABC campaign” (awareness breast cancer campaign) and conducted numerous camps and lectures in various places in and around Lucknow, addressing large numbers of ladies from varied backgrounds at numerous educational and social institutions.