Piramal Swasthya Announces the Launch of D.E.S.H. – a Community-Based Cancer Screening Program for Early Detection of Oral, Breast and Cervical Cancer in Assam

  • Aims to reduce the impact of Oral, Breast and Cervical Cancer burden in the state through early screening and detection, thereby reducing late-stage diagnosis and mortality
  • Key components of the model include community outreach, education and mobilisation, screening for cancer, referral and mobility for treatment at cancer hospital, continuous tracking and follow-up
  • Program covers a population of 15 lakh in remote villages of Kamrup district
  • Collaboration with Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute for referral and treatment of positive cases
  • Appropriate technology-based program ensuring end-to-end coverage with continuous tracking, referral and follow-up


Piramal Swasthya, an initiative under the aegis of Piramal Foundation (the philanthropic arm of the Piramal Group), today announced the launch of its community-based cancer screening program – D.E.S.H., to detect cancer early and thereby reduce mortality. It is expected to reduce the impact of the cancer burden in Assam through early detection of Oral, Breast and Cervical Cancers in rural areas.

Dr. Swati Piramal, Vice Chairperson, Piramal Group, who has been closely involved in the project, inaugurated D.E.S.H in Guwahati, by flagging off a state-of-the-art Mobile Cancer Screening Unit.


Need for the Program in Assam:

Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide. In India, the cancer burden is high and is projected to increase over one-and-a-half times in the next 20 years. Within India, Assam has the highest proportional mortality ratio due to cancer. Kamrup is the district with the 4th highest incidence of cancer-afflicted persons in India, according to the Population-Based Cancer Registry Report (2012-14). States in the north-eastern region, due to a multitude of reasons, have few effective cancer screening programs and very few cancer care centres.


D.E.S.H. – Detect Early, Save Her/Him:

Piramal Swasthya has launched its community-based screening program – D.E.S.H. for Oral, Breast and Cervical Cancers in Kamrup. The program components include creating community awareness, screening for cancer through mobile cancer screening units, mobility for the patients detected positive to a treatment centre, tracking and follow-ups.

Equipped with cutting edge equipment (including a mammography unit) and staffed by doctors, nurses and radiographers, the Mobile Cancer Screening Unit will screen the local population for oral, breast and cervical cancer every Monday to Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, another vehicle will be used to ferry those who have screened positive, to Guwahati’s Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute.


Unique features:

  • Community-based mobile cancer screening unit
  • Counselling session for those who were detected positive
  • Provision of transport for these patients to Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute.
  • Safe and secure Electronic Medical Record for every patient with a Unique Beneficiary ID for monitoring and tracking
  • Referral and follow-up of positive patients, thereby ensuring complete end-to-end cover
  • Patients to be enrolled with the existing Atal Amrit Yojana insurance program


Speaking about the initiative, Dr. Swati Piramal, Vice-Chairperson, Piramal Group, said, “Piramal Swasthya aims to transform India’s health ecosystem through high impact solutions, partnerships and thought leadership. Cancer awareness and screening is of utmost importance as it ensures early detection, thereby increasing the chances of survival and reduction in treatment costs. The North-Eastern states of India are reported to have the highest incidence of cancer, with Kamrup district being ranked the fourth-highest. There are very few cancer care centres or programs in Assam to cater to such patients. The difficult climatic conditions, coupled with poor infrastructure, leads to reporting of only advanced cases with a higher morbidity and mortality.

“Piramal Swasthya has realised a need for a community-based cancer screening program in Assam to prevent, screen, diagnose and treat Oral, Breast and Cervical Cancers in rural areas. We believe that our program will have a significant impact in helping to reduce cancer-related mortality in Assam. After successful implementation in Kamrup, this program can be scaled across the state and the rest of the North-East region as well.”