Pak has highest rate of breast cancer in Asia
For breast cancer, 1 bed for 150,000 persons
First lady of England Cherie Booth Blair said early diagnosis of the breast cancer is the key to better life of the patients as the treatment will be kinder and less intrusive.
This stated this while addressing a session of the Breast Cancer Awareness Programme here on Monday held at the Fatima Jinnah Medical College (FJMC).
Cherie Booth Blair, who is also Patron of the Breast Cancer Care of the UK, considered Betty Westgate as one of the pioneers of the awareness after the latter was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1968, and suffered a lot. “At that time, there was almost no awareness about this disease, but now the situation is entirely different after a passage of over three decades. It is because of the reason that women in the UK are familiar with the breast cancer and they more familiar with the bodies after awareness has been transmitted to them about various diseases,” she stated.
While stressing the need for early diagnosis of breast cancer, Cherie Blair maintained, “Early diagnosis is a must for better life, as the treatment becomes kinder and less intrusive. Moreover, a patient has comparatively less pain to go through than treatment of a delayed diagnosis.”
While expressing her dismay at the shocking statistics of breast cancer among the Pakistani women where 50 percent of the females do not report for treatment, and they die without going to the doctor. “These women are being disempowered. The breast cancer is not about death and punishment. Early diagnosis ensures long life provided there is a proper treatment of this,” she said, while adding that women felt embarrassed while talking about their intimate body parts, “but she is only person who knows about it. Many women are closing their eyes towards this. We have been very successful in the UK in acknowledging that the breast cancer with education of females. We pationately believe that if they understood the problem, the worst happening could be prevented,” she said.
While pleasantly gesturing at the situation where every second female doctor in Pakistan is a gynaecologist, Cherie Blair said many women preferred to be treated by female doctors. She was of the view that situation in Pakistan could be changed through awareness. “Young doctors should be concentrating on transmitting knowledge about breast cancer. For this, no huge amount of money is involved, but it takes a lot of effort for certain,” she said, while maintaining that individuals’ stories could be useful in taking a step forward instead of brushing the problem under the carpet. “We made a difference in the UK, and the figures can be changed here as well. By doing this, Pakistan can become an example for the other countries of the region,” she concluded.
Punjab Health Minister Dr. Tahir Ali Javed said the breast cancer is the commonest of malignancy among women in Pakistan. “35 percent of women suffer with this disease; so 57 per 100,000 cases are here. Out of 90,000 cases in Pakistan, 50 percent are in the Punjab. On the other hand, in the developed countries, 80 percent of the cases are diagnosed at an early stage while the same number of cases in Pakistan are never diagnosed,” he told, while adding that only 10,000 cases were reported to doctors. “In the US, age for breast cancer is 60 years, while it is 45 years in Pakistan. So here, patients are afflicted with the disease earlier, and they die earlier,” he said.
While talking about the situation of treatment in Pakistan, Dr. Tahir said five were qualified oncologists, while only about 16 were radiologists for the breast cancer. “There are seven facilities in the government sector in the Punjab, while four in the federal and one in the private sector, that is, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Hospital. There are 500 beds for 83 million in the province, that is, 1 bed for 150,000 patients. This has augmented further problems of the disadvantaged women,” he said.
Dr. Tahir, while talking about his government’s performance, said the government was upgrading cancer facilities apart from increasing the budget allocation for the breast cancer treatment. “Medical curriculum are being upgraded, and oncology is being made as a major subject. Moreover, a full-fledged cancer centre is in the process, which will be completed by the end of this year,” he concluded with a quotation of Mother Teresa.
National Coordinator National Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign Omer Aftab, while maintaining that the Pink Ribbon is an emblem of hope for breast cancer, said Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer for any Asian population accounting to 40,000 deaths per year. “Approximately, 35 percent of Pakistani women will suffer from breast cancer at some point in their lives, whereas very little information is available in Pakistan and only cases at an advanced stage are reported,” he said, while adding that with early diagnosis, a patient’s chance of surviving breast cancer was higher than 90 percent.
Secretary Health Muhammad Javed Malik delivered the welcome address, while Principal FJMC Prof Muhammad Akbar Chaudhry read vote of thanks. Both the speakers lauded Cherie Blair’s efforts towards the disadvantaged class, especially for women. On this occasion, a pamphlet was distributed among the audience seminar, which contained stale information apart from grammatical mistakes.