KARACHI: Cancer caused around eight million deaths worldwide each year and of these deaths around 70% were occurring in the developing world due to unhealthy lifestyle, poor nutrition, rapid and unplanned urbanisation are key factors responsible for increased cases of cancer among the poor and under privileged classes of society.Health experts while delivering their presentations at an awareness seminar held on the eve of World Cancer Day with theme ‘We Can-I Can’. Seminar was jointly organised by Medionix, Medical and Social Welfare Committee Arts Council of Pakistan, KIRAN Hospital and Dr Essa Laboratories in the Manzar Akbar Hall of Arts Council.
They further said that if no action was taken, deaths from cancer in the developing world were to grow to nine million by 2030 and more than two thirds of cancer patients were diagnosed at the very late stage of disease, when treatment was no longer effective; even palliative care failed to reach the terminally ill cancer patients.Speakers included KIRAN Hospital Director Dr Akhtar Ahmed, Clinical Oncologist Consultant Dr Asghar, Liaquat National Hospital Consultant General and Breast Surgeon Rufina Soomro, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital ENT Surgeon, Medical and Social Welfare Committee Arts Council Chairman Dr Qaisar Sajjad, Karachi Health Director Dr Zafar Aijaz, Dr Essa Laboratories Vice Chairman Sabeeha Essa, Dr Farhan Essa and Dr Mehboob. Senator Haseeb Khan was the chief guest on this occasion.Akhtar Ahmed said that considering the potential of delivering an effective cancer care, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has over the period, established 18 medical centres all over the country, adding that the medical centres provided best quality care to patients with cancer by utilising the technology of Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Oncology.
In addition to that, supporting facilities like clinical laboratory, radiology were also available at these centres. Approximately 800,000 patients visit these centres annually and utilise various diagnostic and therapeutic facilities available. The centres are equipped with state-of-the-art equipments including linear accelerators, SPECT and CT scanners. PET-CT facility was available at INMOL Lahore. Most of the cancer patients were treated without any charges and affording patients get the services at subsidised rates. Cancer screening facilities for breast and cervical cancer were also available. Rufina Soomro while delivering her speech on burdens of breast cancer and early diagnosis, she said that breast cancer is the commonest cancer in women worldwide with Pakistan at the highest in Asia and when compared to the West, the research showed affected women at younger age, at least a decade earlier than West. “Other thing is that we see women at an advanced stage, which becomes a challenge for treating doctors,” she deplored.
The best prevention is an early diagnosis and adequate treatment. “If we diagnose early we can preserve breast cancer and we can avoid the removal of the entire breast and the disease can be controlled effectively,” Rufina Soomro said.
Early diagnosis can be done by breast self examination, examination by trained medical personnel, regular screening and mammogram. She recommended public awareness and adequate resources to deal with the magnitude of the lethal disease.