KARACHI - Expressing concerns over the rising number of cancer cases in Karachi, the Dow University research report called upon on policy makers to devise appropriate strategies for the prevention and control of cancer, as over the past ten years, 22,858 cancer cases had been registered in Dow Cancer Registry, among which the breast cancer ranked first, oral cancer second and esophageal cancer third.

Among those 22,858 cancers cases, 9,112 cases (that is 39.9%) were registered in males while 13,746 (that is 60.1%) were registered in females, said a news release on Thursday.

In adult males the percentage of cancer cases according to their prevalence is as: Cancer of lip and oral cavity was 33.6%, non-melanoma skin cancer was 7.2%, cancer of esophagus was 6.8%, cancer of colorectal was 6.7% and cancer of stomach was 4.9%. While in adult females the percentage of breast cancer was 53.2%, cancer of lip and oral cavity was 10.4%, cancer of esophagus was 5.3%, cancer of colorectal was 3.3% and non-melanoma skin cancer was 3%. In children, the percentage of brain cancer was 15.8%, Hodgkin’s lymphoma was 14.2%, cancer of colorectal was 8.1 %, cancer of endocrine and related organs was 15.3% and non-hodgkin’s lymphoma was 7.8 %.

According to the research paper, lip and mouth cancer is on the peak among men in Karachi, while the report suggests that research into esophageal cancer is also necessary to determine the value of the food used. This report, from the Dow Cancer Registry contains data of ten years from 2010-2019. Note that the figures are for cases registered at Dow University, which has the largest public sector network of diagnostic centres in the city. Since alcohol, hot drinks like tea, coffee use of meat barbecue etc cause esophageal cancer, it is necessary to see how much the use of these foods has increased in the last decade.

The report also raises concerns about the growing percentage of brain and nervous system cancer in children over the past years and stresses on the need for action. According to the report, national level cancer statistics are not available in the country. The data presented by Pakistan at the International Conference on Cancer in 2018, titled Globocan-2018, was extracted from a report by the Punjab Cancer Registry. As per the report, due to the unavailability of cancer data at the national level, there are still many cancer patients who are not registered, but if a strong system of cancer registry is established at the regional level, then the cancer data at the national level can be configured. There is an urgent need to create a regular and integrated system for cancer patient’s registration.

The report recommends banning various types of tobacco products, pan, gutka, cigarettes, sheesha etc to prevent oral cancer, as the growing number of cancer cases cannot be controlled without effective measures in the right direction. According to the report, most people with oral cancer have long been found to be addicted to tobacco.

The report described the increasing percentage of colorectal cancer as a wake-up call and said that it was more common in developed countries because of their food and habits. Therefore, it is necessary to look whether it is increasing due to the growing trend of Western style foods or there is some other reason.

The reports further said that non melanoma skin cancers were amongst the top ten cancers in Karachi. The reason could be city’s proximity to the equator as compared to other parts of Pakistan. The other reason could be increased production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in city over the past years, causing depletion of ozone layer. The annual growth rate of CFCs is 71.7% in Karachi which is not only harming ozone layer but also causing various types of skin diseases.