LAHORE - Yet another World Cancer Day will be observed today with usual rituals of holding workshops and seminars, though without steps on the part of the government regarding preventive measures and treatment of one of the common non communicable diseases.

There is not even a single specialised centre for cancer in Punjab’s public sector and the government lacks initiative to establish such a facility in near future.

The day is marked on February 4 every year to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. WCD was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008.

Taking place under the tagline “We can. I can.”, WCD 2016 will explore how everyone - as a collective or as individuals - can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer.

The day provides a chance to reflect on what you can do, make a pledge and take action. Whatever you choose to do, “We can. I can.” make a difference to the fight against cancer.

Like the previous years, seminars, workshops and free medical camps have been planned both at the government and private level in major cities including Lahore just to mark the global event while the situation remained the same and even worsened for the patients and their families.

“Increase in number of cancer patients is alarming. Since 75 per cent of cancer cases appear late in our society, there is need for public health education and establishment of a specialised centre,” said leading oncology surgeon Prof Muhammad Arshad Cheema, who is Founding President Surgical Oncology Society Pakistan.

He added: “We have cardiac centers in Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Wazirabad but not a single comprehensive cancer center in the province in public sector. Chief Minister Punjab made the commitment of establishing such centre two years ago on WCD.

“Steps should be taken to fulfill the commitment of giving a specialised centre to unfortunate cancer patients.” Every 7th death in Pakistan is caused by some form of cancer. Of ninety million women alive in Pakistan today, 10 million are going to develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

More than 80 million people died from cancer worldwide in 2014. That number is more than TB, AIDS and Malaria deaths combined. Cancer kills more people in one hour than diseases like dengue, diphtheria, H1N1 flue kill during the whole year.

As per World Health Organization, cancer surpassed heart disease as no one cause of deaths world over in year 2012.

“Only 10 per cent cancers are related to hereditary factors and 90 per cent are caused by environmental influences and life style choices. 40 per cent cancers are preventable by paying attention to four factors i.e, avoiding use of tobacco, pan, gutka and naswar, increasing physical activity and avoiding obesity, getting vaccinated against Hepatitis B and Papilloma viruses and avoiding exposure to strong sunlight containing ultraviolet rays”, said Prof Cheema who is presently Dean Postgraduate Medical Institute and Chairman Department of Surgery, University of Lahore.

He said that detection of cancer at an early stage was the best guarantee for survival. “Early signs of cancer (Red Flags) include development of lumps in breast, testis or elsewhere, bleeding from a body orifice and development of sores in mouth or skin which fail to heal quickly.

“Screening at risk individuals can detect breast, colon cancers at an early curable stage,” he added. Prof Cheema, who has previously served as Dean and Chairman Department of Surgery King Edward Medical University, told The Nation: “We have failed to provide adequate pain relief services to the patients. Not a single hospital, government or Private, with the exception of one provides Morphine Sulphate Tablets or Injections.”

Referring to the cost of treatment, he said that surgery was most cost effective that cures 60 per cent of patients. “It requires skilled and trained doctors and staff, well equipped operation theaters and nothing else. A good Radiotherapy machines costs lot less than two bullet proof Mercedes. Generic chemotherapy medicines are less expensive than the antibiotics used in routine.”

Early detection may cure cancer



Detecting cancer early always makes it easier to treat or even cure, emphasised Oncologists in a seminar on World Cancer Day held at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre yesterday.

The recent figures from the United Kingdom have revealed that for eight common cancers- bladder, bowel, breast, cervical, womb, malignant melanoma, ovarian and testicular cancers - survival is three times higher when cancer is diagnosed early.

On the occasion, Hospital’s Consultant Paediatric Hospitalist Dr Afshan Khattak said the child cancer is on the rise in Pakistan, however, the ratio of child cancer cure is much better than in adults. She appealed to pediatric specialists not to delay in diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Consultant Medical Oncologist and Haematologist, Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Dr Abdul Hameed said the blood cancer reduces the ability of blood cells to work. “In this case, symptoms appear in the patient like fever, reduced weight, lumps in different parts of the body like neck or armpit and too much sweating especially at night while sleeping.

“In these conditions, consult a doctor immediately, as early diagnosis of cancer leads to cure,” he added.

Dr Neelam Siddiqui, Consultant Medical Oncologist of Shaukat Khanum Hospital, added that Pakistanis have a very low awareness of medical and other scientific references like many other underdeveloped cultures and societies. “Lack of education and knowledge leads to misconception and at one stage these misconceptions become part of normal life.”

She added: “For example it is totally wrong that microwaves or coffee are the causes of breast cancer.

It is also baseless notion that using colored dress, perfume, deodorant and mobile phone have any role in progression of breast cancer.”

The consultant also pointed out another misbelief that cancer can spread by body contact or hands shake with a cancer patient including breast cancer patient. “All these ideas have been scientifically proven wrong.”

She further said that we can increase the quality of our health life by adopting a healthy lifestyle.