ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has the highest prevalence of breast cancer in Asia, with around 90,000 people being diagnosed with the disease each year, 40,000 of whom die. Estimates indicate that one in 10 Pakistani women in their lifetime could develop breast cancer.
This was acknowledged by speakers at a webinar organised by the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South, “Breast cancer awareness: give hope, save lives” (Comsats).
Retired Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen, who is also a consultant at Comsats, underlined the value of the steps that need to be taken to resolve the lack of awareness, proper services, care for families and cancer-related fears in society.
The cornerstones of beating the illness are early diagnosis and prompt access to quality medical services, she added, adding that women must educate themselves about self-examination strategies.
Dr Samina Naeem, former associate professor at the Academy of Health Services and counsellor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Pakistan, emphasised the need to crack the disease-related myths and tabuses.
Though sharing her perspective of overcoming the illness, Dr. Fauzia Cheema brought to light concerns relating to breast cancer care and the emotional and psychological implications that patients have to face.
Dr. Farheen Raza of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) Department of Radiology said screening and the need for community-based health education, including group discussions, must be arranged in order to address disease-related taboos.
The first walk-in clinic is the Federal Breast Cancer Screening Exam, housed within Pims, providing cost-free mammography.
She also advocated the creation of a one-stop breast cancer clinic under one roof to meet women’s economy, cultural, emotional and physical needs.
Dr Azeema Fareed, session moderator and Comsats delegate, said that awareness is required not only among women, but among men as they are part of a family and contribute equally to the recovery journey.