Pap smear project

Ease early detection of second common cancer seen in Indian women

Pap-Paap Nahin ..varda hai -Pap Smear Project – Suppported By AID, Chicago chapter

One thousand women screened in 9 months

( Pap meaning Pap smear, is not a curse but a blessing ) An initiative by Vasantha Memorial Trust to screen for cervix cancer with Pap smear & colposcopy in married women between 25 – 50yrs. Project supported by AID ,Chicago Chapter.

The trust is thankful to Association for India’s development ( AID) , its founder , Dr.Ravi kuchimanchi & Ms.Archana Mongia & the Chicago chapter AID for generously suppporting this project.

Project commencement date: 3rd June 2015
Date of completion of the Project 27th Feb 2016

In the period of 9 months beginning June 2015, 1000 women were screened for cervical cancer. 88 women had local infection 50 women needed detailed colposcopy and there were 2 ladies with frank cancers. Both these women were sent to Tata Memorial Hospital and treatment has already begun. Of the 73women advised colposcopy , 14 have got it done and are on follow up , the remaining have been constantly reminded .

Date of commencement

3rd June 2015

Date of completion

27th Feb 2016

Number of women screened


Project Coordinator

Mrs. Jayalakshmi Krishnan , Trustee Vasantha Memorial Trust

Screening centre

Vasantha Memorial Cancer Centre , Vikhroli

Source area of women Screened

Predominantly Kannamwar Nagar & Vikhroli east , also included ………

Gynecologists involved

Drs. Geethanjali Amin, Reena Upadhyay, Swati Dabarase


Ms. Prabhavathi Mhatre, Ms. Namita Ghadi

Health care workers

Ms. Shravani Chavan, Ms. Vanita Palande


Mrs. Kamla, Mrs. Latha, Mrs. Valli, Ms. Rama, Mrs. Shanta, Ms. Meera, Ms. Geetha & Ms. Vidya

Assisting Cancer Victors

Ms. Kavita Solanki & Ms. Shashikala Ghaisas

Diagnostic Labs

Cytology Clinic (AMWI) & Lab Diagnosis

Mode of Execution:

  • The health workers of the trust went door to door canvassing about the project and handouts will be given. Pre registration of women for each week was done.
  • Screening Pap smear camps were held at Vasantha Memorial Cancer centre (VMCC) at Vikhroli every Wednesday & at times on Fridays also between 1.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.
  • 10-40 women were registered each week .The details of their name , address, contact number and proof of residence ( Aadhar card or voter identity card ) were collected
  • Power point presentation on Cancer in Women was given by a lady volunteer & benefits of Pap smear was listed.
  • Gynecologist/s took Pap smears & also performed a general physical exam
  • Pap smears were sent to a Histopathologist for reporting & reports arrived within 2 weeks
  • After the test women were given a follow up card and requested to come the following fortnight for the report. They came in religiously
  • Reports were given to the women the following fortnight and those needing further follow up or procedures or treatment were according advised. 2 women with frant cancer were sent to Tata Memorial hospital for treatment. 50 women were advised colposcopy
  • Others requested to come the next year around the same time. The health worker will give 2 reminders in the beginning of the month the next year

Month wise camp details



Total No. of women screened

Colposcopy Advised

Frank cases

Treat & Repeat Smear




























































Coordinator ‘s summary
The trust & I are thankful to AID Chicago Chapter for the support granted to this project. We are happy that it took enthusiastically and competed 3 months in advance & also recruited 40 additional women. These camps were a regular feature twice a week at the centre and the centre was abuzz with activity. The efficient conduct of the camps got in more volunteers and even donors. Women too came up screening more readily than expected and word of mouth helped in recruiting larger number of number over lesser number of days. All those involved in the project felt happy & satisfied and it is very clear from the experiences related by them. It is hoped that it would continue for the envisaged 3 years with the support of AID.

From this project we realized that we need a regular office colposcope, the portable one which we had was not of much use. 73 women screened in project where referred elsewhere for colopscopy. The regular coploscope will enhance the quality of work we do and improve screening.

The enthusiasm that all the involved had, I am sure will keep us going and enable us reach our aims. Together let us conquer cancer.

Experiences of the people involved

Recruiting women for Screening, the coordinator account:
The main priority of the trust has always been creating the much needed awareness in the laymen about cancer. We leave no stone unturned for doing this, be it residential societies, nearby Mahila Mandals or school teachers or for that matter wherever about 15 to 20 women would assemble, we were always there for cancer awareness talks. With this project on, wherever we gave these talks the assembled were also told about the Pap smear camp every week at our centre.

Around the same time, we were approached by Life Trust, a NGO that works for the Aanganwadi teachers, to conduct cancer awareness programs. This would entail us to visit Anganwadis all over the city & every week, sometimes even twice a week we would go to suburbs like Sewri, Wadala, Kurla, Santacruz etc. After our talk when we told them about the Pap smear test at our centre, they used to ask us to write the address and the contact no. of the trust on the blackboard. Many of them religiously copied it in their notebooks. We thought this was merely to impress us, but to our surprise it was more than that! In a few days’ time Aanganwadi teachers would turn up in hordes to our centre by 1 .00 pm on the specified days. Soon it became a regular affair and their coordinator would send 20 -25 women every week or fortnight!

The Labour Union office near our centre also did their bit. The union office which also houses sewing units & handicrafts centre draws a lot of women from the area. They were receptive to our health workers and 30 odd women from there turned up for screening

Bachat ghat is like a cooperative chit fund where women put in a small savings of about 100 or 200 rupees every month. Their monthly meet gathers about 25 to 50 women. Such groups are there all over in Vikhroli. Our health workers would try and find out the meeting dates &visit them on these dates. They give a small talk about breast self-exam and the need for Pap smear test for about 10-15 minutes and at the end they would inform about the screening facility at our centre. Women from here also turned up at the centre. What was gratifying was that some of them even got their sisters and friends who lived far away for the checkup. Many also came and thanked us personally after collecting the reports and assured us that they would come next year too.

A major activity of the trust in the months of June to September is the Cancer Free Tomorrow program in the schools which has always been well received. In some schools after the talk to the students, talks were also given to lady teachers on Breast & Cervical cancers. Here too we spoke to them about the Pap smear test at the centre. Teachers too who were hitherto unaware of what a pap smear test was wanted to come and get it done. From 3 schools the teachers came in groups of 25 and more and got themselves checked.

January is a festival month and many Maharashtrian ladies call on each other and have haldi kumkum & exchange small gifts. Wherever we used to see group of women going well dressed in traditional attire, the health workers tried to approach them and talk about the test. Most of them would be in a hurry to get back home, but a few used to come to the centre & also enrolled for screening.

A social worker at Kalina in Santacruz had invited us many a times for cancer awareness talks at places where she was associated. When she came to know about this project, she asked us if she could send women from the less privileged class for this test. She used to conduct health awareness camps in these slum areas and she sent every week at least 5- 6 women

Report Collection:
The reports on an average took 2 weeks to come. The screened women came for the report religiously. When the first batch of women came to collect the reports, they were in for a great surprise. Not only the report but a nice bag awaited them made by a cancer survivor as a gift. Many thanked us for the great set up and how well it was organized. They felt so cared and not a minute of theirs was wasted. The gifts not only motivated the women to bring their friends & relatives but it had an emotional appeal too, a cancer victor had made it for them!!!

Dr. Geethanjali Amin,Gynaecologist
To work for Jaya and the Vasantha Memorial trust has always been a beautiful association. Seeing the commitment of everyone at VMT, I enjoy giving my time for them. What I had not expected was seeing nothing less than 15- 20 women waiting for screening every Wednesday ! I still fail to understand how the women patiently waited for their turns and the way they were taken care of. Kudos to the team!! Seeing the enthusiasm in the faces of the nurse or the volunteer or the staff I really felt honored to be associated in this project. Wishing the Trust the very best for all future endeavors.

Dr. Reena Upadhyay, Gynaecologist.
I had known Vasantha Memorial trust when I was approached for one of their camps at Ghatkopar. So when Jaya asked me if I could help her on Fridays for this project, I agreed. I used to always think, one week the crowd will be there, I’m sure next week there will be only 4 or 5. But to my surprise, every week but for some holidays or festivals the crowd was a regular one at the centre. It was nice I could give some time for this noble cause and it was really a pleasure working with VMT.

Vanita Palande, Health worker of VMT:
I had been working with the trust for the past one year and this project was very challenging. We were given training at the centre for this project. Three sessions were conducted where we were shown slides about what we had to speak, hands on training about breast self-exam on breast models was given. Also a written exam was taken and then I started going out in the nearby areas to educate the women and tell them about Pap smear and also about Breast self-exam.

I initially ventured into the areas I knew, as I reside close to the centre. My neighbours and friends were the first group that I got to the centre. When they came and listened to the presentation given by our Volunteer they were very impressed. They told me that we never knew so much and the information was in a language we could understand. And the doctor too was nice. What made them happier was that it was totally free. They then sent three women the next week, like this my contacts increased, I would at least find one woman known to me waiting on Wednesday when I came to the centre This motivated me and I felt confident to get more women .

But it was not like this every week. Sometimes, my friend whom I thought would surely come for the checkup would tell me a BIG NO. I would get depressed, but that would not deter me. The rains also made the women stay indoors. But what kept me going was every week I would at least find one new woman who would listen and show interest to what I have to say.

Whilst walking in Kannamwar Nagar 1, I met a friend of mine who took me to a big slum area which I had never seen till now. It was called Pragati Zopadpatti. Many households were there who were very poor. I first went and met a few women there; they blatantly refused and asked me not to come. I did not give up, I went to few more houses and I met one Mrs. Shinde who gave a patient ear to what I said and came personally with her sister the next week. She then sent six women the next week, by then the women from other localities too started coming in and we started having two opds every week. Fridays too the Doctor would come and women started coming in 10s and 20s. The two days of the week would get so hectic; the line of slippers outside the centre, the volunteers’ busy filling in the forms and the staff entertaining the women with tea and biscuits. Sometimes the women were more than 35- 40 & two doctors used to come.

I visited the nearby colleges where there were about 600 Professors in each college. I would have met them 3-4 times, I had also taken one of our Volunteers to give a detailed talk to them, despite that not one lady came for the checkup. I was truly disappointed. That is when I realized the illiterate women were easier to be spoken to, far more convincible and many came for the checkup too.

Prabhavathi, Nurse
When this Project started, I was very excited to be associated. Having been associated with the trust for more than 3 years, I was happy to be involved in this project. I spread this word of Pap smear in the locality where I stay. I used to give the pamphlets with the address of the trust and was surprised when two women turned up the very next week. Then on a regular basis women form the localities near my place also started coming. They were happy to hear someone give them so much knowledge about cancer, shown pictures, and then they were taken care of with tea and biscuits. They used to thank me profusely for having told them. I felt very nice.

Some days when I used to have time, I too used to go to the nearby areas in Vikhroli and talk to a few women about the necessity of this test and the benefits of this. The other days of the week I take care of the help desk at the Tata Memorial Hospital. When I used to give talk on personal hygiene to the attendants and the patient, sometimes the women just sit there on the chair waiting for so many hours for their patient to complete the tests or chemotherapy. One day I asked the women if they would want to come and get the pap smear test done at our centre and also listen to our volunteers talk on cancer in women. I was surprised when many ladies agreed.

The coming week they all were waiting for me at the help desk and ten women came with me from Parel for the test. They were so attentive when the talk was going on and when they left they had tears as they said Thank you for thinking about us and getting this test done for us free. I was so happy when we completed the project and sincerely look forward for a similar project so that many more women can be benefitted.

Rama, Volunteer
My responsibility was registration and I used to register the patient and meticulously do the data entry in computer, as also in the registers. When the crowd was more two or more volunteers also joined in the registration team. I used to feel nice seeing the buzz of activity in the centre, someone giving a lecture, yet another one arranging the instruments in the Doctors cabin, one other person giving tea & biscuits to the women who have come for screening. Sometimes like a school teacher I had to keep telling the women to stay quiet. Besides the main purpose of the camp it also envisaged the idea of our making people aware of the proper nutritional value of food & exercise. The crowd was not only from Vikhroli but also from slums & the suburbs nearby. At times I had to give the talk to women, so all the volunteers were trained for this activity also and I really felt good. I look forward to another project so that we can continue and more women can take advantage.

Valli, Volunteer
For me this project was a great help in improving my oratory skills. Talking to women in Hindi was a wonderful experience for me. Every week more or less, to give talk to about 20 or more women felt very nice and rewarding. The women had so many questions not knowing whom to ask, and when they felt someone was there to answer their queries they too felt very good. I used to look forward for Wednesdays to come to the centre. When women from faraway places too used to come for this test I realized at least the awareness talks what we gave in the community throughout the year has definitely made the difference. I thoroughly enjoyed my role in this project.

Latha, Volunteer
My association with the Trust is more than 5 years and I jump at any opportunity given to me for volunteering. This project was very interesting and I immediately agreed. I used to come to the centre and take turns in either giving talk to the women or registering the women. Both the responsibilities I liked as I felt I was being useful for this cause. Sometimes the talks were given in Marathi & I used to feel bad, how I wish I had learnt this language. Now I’m trying to learn Marathi too, to start giving talk in this lingo also!!!Wishing another project comes in the future to do for more women.