Published Paper

Empowering Indian Women Sanitary Workers: A Need for Awarness About Breast Cancer among Them

Moghal Roshni, Ajay. A, Kesav, Sriram Alagappan
Page: 39-44
Published on: 2024 March


Breast cancer (BC) poses a global health challenge, demanding proactive measures for prevention and early detection. While developed nations have made strides in reducing bc mortality, the same cannot be definitively claimed for developing countries like india. This article explores the heightened breast cancer risk among female sanitation workers, a predominantly affected workforce in hazardous conditions. Factors such as gender, age, obesity, and night shift work contribute to their increased vulnerability to breast cancer. Examining India's bc landscape reveals a 50% incidence surge over two decades, with a projected substantial increase in new cases. A concerning shift from cervical to breast cancer prevalence is noted, coupled with lower survival rates due to delayed treatment. The study elucidates bc detection methods, emphasizing breast self-examination's potential in resource-limited settings. Given limited infrastructure, the article underscores the need for comprehensive awareness programs tailored to sanitation workers.Introduction: In developed countries, breast cancer (BC) mortality has been significantly decreasing due contributions from developed treatment strategies, yet the incidence of the disease has been found to increase. Although this increase can be accounted by improvements in diagnostic technologies it can also be stated that there is a failure in implication of existing BC prevention maneuvers(1)(2). Despite being the leading cancer-related disease burden among women, it is also stated as a fact that bc will affect 1 in every 8 women by 85 years in high-GDP nations. It is a well-known fact that prevention is better than cure and in order to apply that into practise for bc we must make sure the awareness about the disease among women is in an adequate level. Bc development is influenced by both genetic and non-genetic factors. When compared, the non-genetic factors are easier to be kept in check to exercise maximum prevention for, let alone bc but, any disease. The non-genetic factors for bc are age, exposure to radiation, personal history of breast pathologies, high Body-mass index (BMI), exogenous usage of female hormones, alcohol, reproductive factors (shortened breast-feeding periods, low parity, late menopause and early menarche) and exposure to hazardous(carcinogenic) chemicals(3)(4)(5). The 4’d’s that describe the work of a sanitation worker are dangerous, dirty, drudgery and dehumanizing. In India, there are almost five million people whose work come under this category. These workers are exposed to various hazardous chemicals and toxic gases from the waste they handle despite having safety equipment that have a questionable quality(6). This is indicated by higher death rates among sanitation workers (9 in every 1000) when compared to general population (7 in every 1000) (7). Women sanitation workers are at a greater risk of exposure, when compared to men, since most of them are engaged in collection and waste segregation(8). The stats discussed about breast cancer were taken from studies conducted in developed countries. India being a developing country it would require much more efforts in prevention strategies than those of the developed countries. The fact that India is one of the leading countries in population should be taken into consideration when discussing the amount of waste handled by sanitation workers. It is found that most women in sanitation work environments are non-literate (9). This would mean that these people would fall short in the awareness level when it comes to a disease like breast cancer. Hence this article aims to emphasise the need for executing prevention and awareness programs about breast cancer among women sanitation workers.