Empowering the community for early detection of cancer: a rural community intervention programme in Kerala, India


  • Regi Jose Department of Community Medicine, Sree Gokulam Medical College, Venjaramoodu, Trivandrum, Kerala
  • Paul Augustine Department of Surgical Oncology, Regional Cancer Center, Trivandrum, Kerala
  • Anoop Amrith Lal Department of Community Medicine, MAPIMS, Melmaruvathur, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Libu GK Department of Community Medicine, TD Medical College, Alapuzha, Kerala
  • Jeesha C. Haran Department of Community Medicine, Sree Gokulam Medical College, Venjaramoodu, Trivandrum, Kerala
  • Bennet Abraham Director, Dr. SMCSI Medical College, Karakonam, Kerala


Cancer, Early detection, Community volunteers, Empowerment, Screening


Cancer is an emerging health problem in India. Breast, cervical and oral cancers are curable provided they are detected at an early stage. The best way to fight cancer is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Community participation is imperative for achieving and sustaining any progress in this direction. This study aims to show a model community intervention programme for cancer control in low resource settings using trained volunteers from the community through screening and creating public awareness. Community survey covered 5126 houses and 19991 individuals. Awareness classes and screening camps were conducted in all the twenty wards of the Panchayath. Prevalence of cancer and precancerous lesions in the Panchayath were 160 and 263 per 100000 populations respectively. Four new cases of cancer were detected during the programme. Early detection of cancer can be made possible by giving proper training and motivation to community volunteers who can educate, motivate, screen and conduct follow up in the community. Panchayats and NGOs can take a lead role and can take this as model for their cancer screening programmes.


Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, cancer incidence and mortality worldwide: IARC cancer base No. 11, Lyon, France. International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2013. Available at: http://globocan.iarc.fr. Accessed 27 January 2014.

Jemal A, Bray F, Center MM, Ferlay J, Ward E, Forman D. Global cancer statistics. CA Cancer J Clin. 2011;61(2):69-90.

Jemal A, Center MM, DeSantis C, Ward EM. Global patterns of cancer incidence and mortality rates and trends. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Aug;19(8):1893-907.

Yeole BB, Jayant K, Jussawalla DJ. Trends in breast cancer incidence in greater Bombay: an epidemiological assessment. Bull World Health Organ. 1990;68(2):245-9.

Augustine P, Jose R, Peter A, Lal AA, Prabhakar J, Sreedharan J et al. Risk factors of breast cancer in Kerala, India: a case control study. Acad Med J India. 2014 Feb;2(1):7-13.

RCC. Hospital cancer registry 2013 regional cancer centre, Thiruvananthapuram. Trivandrum: regional cancer center, Trivandrum, 2014. Available at: www.rcctvm.org

Prabhakaran PS, Bapsy PP. Novel comprehensive integrated model for cancer control-50 years of cancer control in India. In: Prabhakaran PS, Bapsy PP, eds. National Cancer Control Programme. India: Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health And Family Welfare, Government of India; 2002: 129.

Kathleen Meister, John Morgan. Risk Factors for Breast Cancer. In: Kathleen Meister, John Morgan, eds. A Report by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). New York, NY: American Council on Science and Health; 2000: 27.

Paskett ED, Tatum CM, D’Agostino R, Rushing J, Velez R, Michielutte R et al. Community-based interventions to improve breast and cervical cancer screening: results of the Forsyth county cancer screening (FoCaS) project. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 May;8(5):453-9.

Katz ML, Tatum C, Dickinson SL, Murray DM, Long-Foley K, Cooper MR et al. Improving colorectal cancer screening by using community volunteers: results of the Carolinas cancer education and screening (CARES) project. Cancer. 2007 Oct;110(7):1602-10.

Regi Jose RP. Evaluation of non-communicable disease control pilot programme of national rural health mission in Thiruvananthapuram district. Clin Epidemiol Glob Health. 2013;XXX:1-7.

Jose R, Manojan KK, Augustine P, Nujum ZT, Althaf A, Haran JC et al. Prevalence of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes in Neyyattinkara Taluk of South Kerala. Acad Med J India. 2013 Nov;1(1):1-11.






Short Communication