‘Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer in Asia’

Published November 30, 2020
Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen presides over an awareness seminar on breast cancer on Sunday. — INP
Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen presides over an awareness seminar on breast cancer on Sunday. — INP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer in Asia, as approximately 90,000 women are diagnosed with the disease every year out of whom 40,000 pass away. Estimates reveal that one in 10 Pakistani women could develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

This was pointed out by speakers at a webinar, “Breast cancer awareness: give hope, save lives”, organised by Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (Comsats).

Retired ambassador Fauzia Nasreen, who is also an adviser at Comsats, emphasised the importance of measures that need to be taken in order to overcome the lack of knowledge, appropriate facilities, family support and fear related to cancer in society.

An early diagnosis and timely access to affordable medical care are the cornerstones of beating the disease, she said, adding women must educate themselves about techniques of self-examination.

Dr Samina Naeem, ex-associate professor at Health Services Academy and consultant at World Health Organisation (WHO) Pakistan, stressed the need for breaking stereotypes and taboos related to the disease.

Dr Fauzia Cheema, while sharing her experience of surviving the disease, brought to light problems related to treatment of breast cancer along with social and psychological consequences that patients have to face.

Dr Farheen Raza from the radiology department of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) said screening and the need for community-based health education, including group discussions, must be organised in order to overcome taboos attached to the disease.

Federal Breast Cancer Screening Test is the first walk-in facility, located inside Pims, offering free of cost mammography.

She also suggested establishment of a one-stop breast cancer clinic aimed at addressing financial, cultural, mental and physical needs of women, under one roof. Steps like this will help break the stigma surrounding the disease, she added.

Coordinator of the session and Comsats representative Dr Azeema Fareed said awareness is not only needed among women but also among men as they are part of the family and contribute equally towards the journey of recovery.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2020

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