islamabad - Breast Cancer Awareness Month successfully concluded and from October 01 to 31st, 454 women and two men were screened free of cost for breast cancer and out of them 43 were found to be positive for the disease

The October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. NORI Islamabad was regularly organizing this campaign. This year in collaboration with NORI Patients’ Welfare Society (NPWS) and Pakistan Society of Clinical Oncology (PSCO) Oncology Department of NORI Islamabad celebrated October as breast cancer awareness month so as to disseminate information about causes, prevention and treatment of breast cancer and to encourage those who have either won the fight against breast cancer or are recently diagnosed.

The concluding ceremony was organized on Saturday. Member Administration Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission graced the occasion as Chief Guest whereas Dr Jamal Nasir an eminent social worker and Mr Zamarrud Khan Chairman Pakistan Sweet Homes were the guests of honor. Dr Catalina Ehsan a Chilean National and Principal University College of Islamabad participated in the ceremony as breast cancer survivor.  The event was largely attended by renowned professors of different medical specialties of the hospitals in twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The event started with brief introduction of the treatment and diagnostic services being provided at NORI by Director NORI Dr Javaid Irfan.

Dr Humera Mahmood Consultant Oncologist NORI talked about the significance of Breast Cancer Screening in early detection and timely treatment.  She mentioned that cancer screening is synonymous with secondary prevention referring to detection of disease in a stage that would have not been otherwise possible without screening. Breast caner screening stare in 1960s with mammography and has resulted in reduction in breast cancer related mortality by as much as 25% to 58%. She reiterated that benefits are more in women aged between 40 and 70 years because the tumor grows rapidly in this age group. There is substantial evidence in favor of screening for breast cancer .    She regretted that breast cancer patients in Pakistan present in advanced stage of the disease when prognosis is poor and breast conservation is not possible. She stressed that breast cancer screening is even of greater significance in Pakistan.

Dr Mohammad Faheem Head Oncology NORI talked about activities of the month long breast cancer awareness campaign at NORI. Breast cancer awareness campaign at NORI Islamabad for the year 2014 was formally inaugurated on 2nd October 2014 by Mr Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry Secretary Foreign Affairs.  A series of events were arranged at NORI starting from Ist October 2014. Mini symposia were arranged for female employees of NORI and free consultation and breast cancer screening services were provided throughout the month. Information material titled “Breast Cancer Awareness”, “Breast Cancer Screening”, “Nutritional guidelines for cancer patients’, “Smoking and Cancer”, “Radiation Treatment in Cancer”, “Chemotherapy Administration, Side effects & Remedies” and “Introduction to Oncology Department NORI” was distributed to patients, general public and all women coming to NORI for breast cancer screening.  

He mentioned NORI organized grand seminar on 25th October to create awareness about this deadly disease and to show solidarity with those who have already suffered from breast cancer . Mrs Nazrat Bashir MD PPRA graced the occasion as chief guest and Mrs Naim (w/o Mr Mohammad Naim Member Fuel HISI) and Dr Shama Ishaq Baloch MPA Balochistan Assembly were the guests of honor. The event was attended by more than 350 women from different walks of life, dignitaries, eminent surgeons, gynecologists, Radiologists, Pathologists, teachers from different schools, colleges and universities, both medical and non medical students, nurses and paramedical staff and patients and their relatives. All the participants showed keen interest and took part in discussion enthusiastically. Ms Nazrat Bashir, Mrs Naim and Dr Shama shared their experience as patients of breast cancer and lauded the services being provided at NORI for cancer treatment. They encouraged women and said that cancer is not a death sentence rather its life sentence. Women treated for breast cancer are leading normal and productive lives. Mr Vakil Ahmad Khan Advisor ERRA and President NPWS appreciated the efforts of NORI and informed that medicines worth Rs 60 million have been provided to cancer patients free of cost out of NPWS funds. Breast Cancer Awareness Month October 2014 at NORI had been very successful in creating awareness in women in getting themselves screened for breast cancer and seeking timely treatment for the disease. From Ist Oct till 31st 454 women and 2 men have been screened free of cost for breast cancer and out of them 43 were found to be positive for the disease. At the start of the month the number of women coming for screening was in the range of 15 to 20 per day. After Eid breast cancer screening gained momentum and the number of women screened rose to more than 30 per day. After grand seminar on breast cancer awareness on 25th this number went to more than 60 per day. This was a great achievement as 10% of the screened women were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer . There were few women who were already diagnosed but had not sought timely treatment due to poverty, taboos or other reason.  They also got the courage and reported at NORI for free consultation and examination and were convinced to get treated.  All the screened women were provided reports the same day.

Catalina Ehsan shared her experience as cancer survivor. She greatly appreciated the standard of services at NORI. She inspite of being Chilean national preferred to get treatment at NORI. She lauded rapid development and progress including cancer registry at NORI. Comparing NORI with other hospitals she said that NORI is not comparable with any other government hospital. She is an inspiration for other patients. She was diagnosed with the help of screening when she was asymptomatic.

Dr Jamal Nasir, Chairman Pakistan Green Task Force appreciated the efforts of Oncology Department headed by Dr Mohammad Faheem in running this month long campaign ad providing free screening services to a large population. He wished other hospitals could follow NORI as role model.

Zamurrad Khan was determined to support NORI both financially and morally.

Dr Amjad Mehmood Registrar PMDC and Prof Khalique-uz-Zaman Head Neurosurgery PIMS alo congratulated Director and Oncology Department NORI for organizing such a successful event at NORI and providing free screening services throughout the month.

Chief Guest Maj General Retired Syed Guftar Shah HI(M), SI(M) informed that PAEC is catering to 75% of cancer patients irrespective of stage and financial status. He applauded Director and Oncology Department NORI for their untiring efforts n making history by running month long breast cancer awareness campaign at NORI. He acknowledged the repute which NORI Patient Welfare Society as earned by dint of its fair policy for patient welfare.

The event was followed by walk against breast cancer which was participated by a large number of people belonging to different walks of life.