Research Gap in Health Literacy: Are We Overlooking a Possible Solution to Inadequate Cancer Screening in India?

Document Type : Correspondence and Letter to Editor


1 Department of Preventive Oncology, Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Centre and Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Tata Memorial Centre, Varanasi, India.

2 Department of Surgery, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.


India has one of the highest oral cancer burdens and accounts for one out of every five cervical cancer incidences worldwide. Majority of these preventable cancers are diagnosed in advanced stages with poor prognosis and survival. World Health Organization supports health literacy as a measure for accomplishing sustainable development goals. Community trials have reported that health literacy-focused interventions improve cancer screening participation and adherence. In India health literacy research is unutilized for cancer screening. Majority of the research utilized proxy information using disease-specific knowledge, attitude, and socio-demographic characteristics for screening participation. Through this correspondence, we discuss the poor cancer screening coverage in India and the research gap in health literacy in Indian context. Without an understanding of the distribution of the components of health literacy and the development of context-specific interventions for improvement, it will be difficult for any technology or innovation to penetrate the community and increase screening coverage. 


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