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IACCGH Monthly Programs
American Cancer Society Meeting

On Monday, October 11, American Cancer Society leaders addressed members of the Indian Doctor�s Club  and the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston.   Dr. Shalini Vallabhan, Director of South Asia Strategies and Programs, introduced the American Cancer Society India Initiative � a program to fight cancer across India. 

Cancer is one of the world�s most rampant killers.  Tragically, this doesn�t have to be the case.  Cancer is potentially one of the most preventable and the most curable of all chronic life-threatening diseases.  

In India, it is conservatively estimated that there are 2.5 million cases of cancer at any given time.  Nearly 800,000 cases were diagnosed in 2000 and there were 550,000 deaths due to cancer in that same year.  Tobacco- related cancers account for almost one-third of all cancers in India.  The two most common cancers among Indian women are cervical and breast cancers.  What�s most disheartening is that many of these cancers can either be prevented altogether or detected early when treatment is most effective.  Worse yet, more than 70% of all cancers in India are found when the disease is so advanced that treatment is much less effective. 

The American Cancer Society is well positioned to promote life-saving interventions in India.  To make an impact on cancer in India we must make strategic investments in fighting tobacco use, advocating for access to breast and cervical cancer early detection and treatment services, as well as ensuring access to palliative care, namely pain medications.   To make these critical investments, the American Cancer Society is looking for financial support from interested individuals, corporations, and organizations that have an interest in improving the health of our families and friends in India. 

Over five million children in India are addicted to gutkha � a key driver behind the country�s soaring oral cancer rates.  While a few states have banned this product, clever tobacco companies have found ways around the gutkha ban and are still providing this deadly product to children throughout India.  The ACS India Initiative addresses the scourge of gutkha, bidis, and the growing problem of cigarette use in India through grants and trainings on how to pass, implement, and enforce government laws that seek to reduce tobacco use. 

Though cervical cancer is easily detected with relatively low-cost methods, awareness of and access to such services is severely limited, especially among poor rural women.  Moreover, while cervical cancer has long been the leading cause of cancer death among Indian women, breast cancer is on the rise and now is the leading cancer in some urban areas such as Mumbai and Delhi.  The American Cancer Society will identify partners in India to work on a pilot project that would target breast and cervical cancers by increasing awareness and access to early detection services with referrals for treatment services as needed.   

It is estimated that more than one million people a year in India suffer from pain due to cancer.  Despite India�s increasing cancer burden, there is still great difficulty accessing effective and much-needed pain medications.  The American Cancer Society will work with leaders from around the world on how to address quality of life issues for cancer patients and how to work towards greater access to pain medications. 

The American Cancer Society India Initiative will establish field offices and have staff on the ground in key Indian cities to support these important cancer fighting activities.  But we cannot do it alone.  Please contact Dr. Shalini Vallabhan to learn more about becoming a Founding Supporter or Benefactor of the American Cancer Society India Initiative.  Dr. Vallabhan can be contacted at 720-941-8442 or by email, svallabhan@cancer.org.

The sitting group picture:
Dr. Shalini Vallabhan and others of American Cancer Society with members of IACCGH and IDA

Indian Doctors Association & IACCGH Talk by American Cancer Society Oct 11th 2004

(L-R) Vivek Mehta (Compass Bank,), Ashoke Nath (IACCGH), Dr Sen Pathak (MDACC) IACCGH President Dr Randhir Sinha, Shalini Vallabhan (ACS),
IDA President Dr Mahesh Shetty, Dr Guru Reddy (IDA), Jagdip Ahluwalia (IACCGH)


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