ImageHealthCare Global Enterprises Ltd. (HCG), south Asia's largest cancer care network, is launching a month-long digital mammogram campaign in February 2009 as part of its corporate social responsibility.

As part of this campaign, HCG is offering free digital mammogram to immediate relatives of women (mother, sister & daughter) diagnosed with breast cancer plus 50 per cent discount for their extended relatives.

According to Dr. Niti Raizada Narang, head, Center of Breast Health & Genetic Counselling Clinic, HCG, "Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in urban India. One out of 22 women develops breast cancer and this figure is increasing gradually. If not contained, this increase is expected to match western figures of 1 in 8 women. A woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every six and a half minutes".

Early diagnosis increases the probability of the patient leading a normal life and mammography is the best option as it can detect a lump 5 to 10 years earlier than breast self examination. It is a quick, pain-less procedure. The quality of x-ray image using digital mammography is the best as compared to any other method.

It enables accurate diagnosis since the size, brightness and contrast of the image can be changed by the doctor. Repeat testing can be avoided as the digital image can be looked at differently, so this method is more cost effective.

Given the growing incidence of breast cancer, it is advisable for women above 40 years of age undergo a mammogram annually and women with family history of breast cancer (high risk category) need to undergo a mammogram if above 30 years of age, Dr Niti added.

HCG currently owns and manages a network of 17 state-of-the-art cancer treatment centres across India. It focuses on the entire value chain in cancer care from diagnostics to high end imaging services to cutting edge research and clinical trials. Bangalore Institute of Oncology (BIO), the flagship of HCG, was set up almost two decades ago by Dr. B S Ajai Kumar who had then just moved back from the US and was the first dedicated comprehensive cancer centre in the private space.