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KARACHI: Health experts on Thursday said breast cancer was a highly serious health risk for women across the world, estimating one in nine Pakistani women developed breast cancer at some stage of their life.

“Majority of cases in Pakistan are [not] diagnosed in time because of lack of awareness and cultural taboos that drive women to keep the disease a secret. Around 40,000 women lose their lives every year in Pakistan due to breast cancer. Unluckily, in Asia, Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer,” said Dr Lubna Vohra, consultant surgeon, at an awareness seminar titled ‘Pretty in pink’, organised by the Ziauddin University and Hospital.

She said screening and early detection of breast cancer was highly important, motivating women by telling them about the factors that influenced risk for breast cancer which included being a woman, being older, and having changes in breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2).

About the risk factors of cancer — according to different age groups — Dr Vohra said the incidence of breast cancer was alarmingly high in Karachi.

Fauzia Pesnani, of nursing services said in both developing and underdeveloped countries the main reason for the rising number of deaths was that cancer in many women was only detected in the last stages due to lack of awareness and cultural barriers.

She said breast cancer was growing due to increase in life expectancy and urbanisation. Adoption of certain lifestyles also played a part.

Dr Rahila Usman, a radiologist, said most women could survive breast cancer if it was detected and treated in time. “And it can only be possible if women start believing in the screening test for breast cancer”.

She said a mammogram — the screening test for breast cancer — can help find the ailment early when it’s easier to treat.

Zohaira Farooqui, a physiotherapist, discussed the importance of rehabilitation in cancer patients and management of lymphoedema in breast cancer patients.

Prof Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, vice chancellor of the Ziauddin Univ­ersity in his welcome address, said breast cancer is among the most common cancers across the world and the seminar was an effort to increase awareness and decrease the stigma of the disease with the help of education regarding symptoms and treatment.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2017