Like other parts of the globe, World Cancer Day was observed across the country on Tuesday to raise awareness about severe implications of cancer, causes, rectifications and removal of myths about the menace.
World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008. The primary goal of the World Cancer Day is to significantly reduce death and illness caused by cancer by 2020.
The Day' is celebrated annually on February 4 to deepen understanding of this killer disease. The campaign focuses on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration that is to reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer with the tagline, "Debunk the myths". Seminars, workshops and walks were arranged in major cities including Lahore to mark the day.
Addressing a seminar organised by Surgical Oncology Society (SOS) at College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP), Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab on Health Kh Salman Rafique said that Punjab government would establish cancer care centres in Punjab. He said that after consultation with professionals, recommendations would be sent to the chief minister within a week for setting up first public sector cancer hospital in Lahore.
President SOS and Principal Government Khawaja Safdar Medical College Sialkot Prof Zafar Ali Ch, Chairman Surgical Department King Edward Medical University Prof Arshad Cheema, DGIR CPSP Prof Khalid Masood Gondal, Prof Abul Ali Khan from Allama Iqbal Medical College, senior medical teachers and a number of doctors participating in cancer training workshop.
Kh Salman Rafique appreciated the services of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan in imparting training to the doctors and said that the college is pride of Pakistan from where thousands of doctors have got training in surgery and are serving not only in Pakistan and abroad.
He further said that unfortunately the resources of country could not be enhanced so speedily as compared to increase in population. He said that rapid increase in population negatively impact quality of life. He said that as compared to health facilities, the disease burden is very high in Pakistan.
Kh Salman said that government is focusing on providing basic amenities of life and health is the top priority. He said that planners and health managers have to focus more on preventive side for which creation of awareness is very essential.
He said that people have to change their habits and lifestyle to prevent themselves from various diseases including cancer. He said that reforms are being introduced in health sector and efforts are being made to streamline the things within shortest period of time.
Earlier, President SOS, Prof Zafar Ali Ch disclosed that three successful surgeries of cancer patients have been carried out in Government Teaching Hospital Sialkot on February 3. Prof Arshad Cheema stressed the need for establishing comprehensive cancer centres in Pakistan equipped with all relevant diagnostic and treatment facilities under one roof. Speakers at a seminar organised by the Government College University’s Biological Society and Cancer Care Hospital were of the view that healthy lifestyle could reduce cancer risk by 35 per cent.
Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Khaleequr Rahman chaired the seminar, while King Edward Medical University Department of Oncology Chairman Prof Dr Shaharyar and Department of Zoology Chairperson Prof Dr Nusrat Jahan delivered lectures on the occasion.
In his address, the VC urged the youth to reduce excessive use of mobile phone because this devise emits radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, which causes fatigue, sleep disturbances, dizziness, loss of mental attention and headaches. He advised students to keep a safe distance while watching television.
Prof Dr Shaharyar highlighted preventive measures, causes and cures of cancer. He said that 10 million new patients are diagnosed with cancer every year and their number would increased to 16 million by year 2020, while 8 million deaths would be registered in this period just owing to this deadly disease.
He said that in 1947, the age limit of women was 39 years, which has increased to 60 now. He pointed out that smoking is the main reason of cancer in young patients and this bad habit is responsible for 90 per cent of lung cancer. Smokers are also hit by twelve other types of cancer, he said, adding that smokers die 30 years early.
About the best treatment, Dr Shaharyar said that targeted therapy is the best cure of cancer. He said that there are as many as 400 types of cancer out of which 20-30 per cent can be cured, while in 50 per cent cases patient’s life can be prolonged and in 20-30 per cent cases symptomatic relief can be given to the victim.
He said cancer is rising in Pakistan and half of them can be prevented just by adopting a healthy lifestyle. He said that some 162,000 patients are added to the existing number of cancer patients in Punjab each year, adding, “Only a small minority are able to get treatment.”
After the seminar, the VC led an awareness walk, in which hundreds of students and guests participated. The VC also presented shields to the guests.
Further, College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan organised a conference at its Regional Centre in collaboration with Society of Oncology. Kh Salman Rafique chaired the conference attended by over 300 participants.
Addressing the participants, he appreciated CPSP for holding this conference. He said that CPSP is an asset of the country and nation. The winning of The Best College Award speaks volumes about the achievements of CPSP, he said. He said work is going on for the prevention of cancer and CM will be briefed in next week. Prof Khalid Masood Gondal, DGIR, CPSP, said that College is using its best resources for producing quality doctors.
“Cancer is the second leading cause of death and direly needs attention of the government, media and health experts to create awareness amongst masses and alleviate myths about cancer, as 90 per cent cancer cases are curable if timely diagnosed.”
Health and media experts stressed this while addressing the participants of a walk gathered to fight against cancer outside Shifa International Hospital (SIH) on Tuesday. The walk was organised by Shifa International Hospital in collaboration with Saach Foundation, a not-for-profit organization working on thalassaemia and cancer.
Eminent anchorperson and Chief Executive Officer Saach Foundation Syed Tallat Hussain stressed that fighting cancer was as important as fighting the menace of terrorism in Pakistan.
He while appreciating the role of mainstream media for creating cancer awareness and alleviating myths about cancer also highlighted that it was media's moral and legal obligation to dedicate ten per cent air time for social issues with special focus on creating healthcare awareness among masses.
He also advised masses and specially students and youth to raise questions about cancer and ask for answers. Stressing the need for getting tested for cancer; he said quakes were not the right place to treat a deadly disease like cancer. Cancer is not a social taboo. It's preventable and it's treatable, he stated.
Head Medical Oncology SIH Dr Kamran Rashid said cancer is very serious disease but it can be avoided by adopting healthy lifestyle and indulging in physical activities and exercises. He stressed the need for quitting smoking and use of all kinds of tobacco that was a root-cause of many types of cancers.
Dr Kamran told the participants that cancer is 90 per cent curable if it is timely diagnosed. "Treatment is more successful today than ever," he remarked. He emphasised that once cancer is diagnosed it should be treated at multi-disciplinary facility because cancer treatment is not the job of a single doctor.
Consultant Oncologist Dr Reshma Aziz said breast cancer prevalence in Pakistan was higher than entire Asia. One in eight Pakistani women is at risk of developing breast cancer. However there is no specific data of total cancer patients in Pakistan as there is no centralised cancer registry, she added.
SIH Chief Executive Officer Dr Manzoor H Qazi, Medical Director Dr Salim Khan, Chief Operating Officer Sohail A Siddiqi, Director Strategic Planning Mahmood Mirza, other SIH officials, a large number of schoolchildren from Tameer-e-Millat Foundation (TMF) School and Muslim Aid School, officials of Saach Foundation and large number of people participated in the walk.
The participants were holding placards and banners inscribed with encouraging slogans for cancer patients and awareness quotes.