LAHORE - Like other parts of the globe, World Cancer Day was observed across the country, including Lahore, on Monday with usual rituals of seminars, walks and free screening camps at public and private level.

Like the previous years, the day passed with usual exercise while situation on the ground deteriorated further due to a lack of government initiative to check ever increasing burden of non-communicable diseases including various forms of cancer.

WCD is observed globally on February 4 since 2011 under different themes to raise awareness about preventive measures, benefits of early diagnosis and treatment of various types of cancers.  Since 2016, WCD theme covers three year. Theme for 2019 - 2021 is ‘I Am and I Will’ campaign to resonate, inspire change and mobilise action long after the day has passed. Cancer, uncontrolled growth of cells, is a leading cause of death. Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer are common in men. Breast, colorectal, lung, uterine cervix, and stomach cancer are common among women. More than 30 per cent of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, especially tobacco use.

Early detection, accurate diagnosis, and effective treatment, including pain relief and palliative care, help increasing cancer survival rates and reduce suffering. Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, tailored to tumor stage, type and available resources.

There are currently around 200 known types of cancer. Lung cancer is by far the biggest killer. Every year it takes the lives of around 1.4 million people globally. Stomach cancer is the second biggest killer, with around 740,000 deaths per year, and liver cancer is third with 700,000 per year.

About 30 per cent of cancer deaths are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks-high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use. Tobacco is the most important risk factor causing 22 per cent of global cancer deaths and 71 per cent of global lung cancer deaths.

The most common symptoms of cancer are breathlessness, unexplained vaginal bleeding, persistent heartburn or indigestion, croaky voice or hoarseness, changes in bowel movements, persistent bloating, difficulty swallowing, mouth or tongue ulcer that won’t heal, heavy night sweats, unusual breast changes, blood in excrement, unexplained weight loss, new mole or changes to a mole, coughing up blood, persistent cough, unexplained pain or aches and an unusual lump or swelling anywhere.  Consultant Urological Oncologist at Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Center (PKLI) Dr Nauman Zafar said that tobacco, gutka, alcohol, inadequate diet, lack of exercise and obesity were major risk factors for cancer, the deadliest disease that has caused millions of deaths in the world. In Pakistan, he said, more than 300,000 people were being affected by one type of cancer or the other each year. He said ‘PKLI aims to raise mass awareness about kidney, pancreas, liver and prostate cancer and provide quality treatment facilities to improve the lives of people as well as reducing the burden of this devastating disease on individuals and society’. He said that more than one third of all cancers were preventable through lifestyle interventions. He urged people to take responsibility if decreasing cancer risk at own. He said that simple actions such as quitting smoking, avoiding use of alcohol, regular exercise and reducing intake of processed and red meat could provide first-line of defense against cancer. Major cancer surgeries including cystectomy, nephrectomy, hepatectomy, prostatectomy, transurethral resection of a bladder tumor (TURBT) have also been performed by the highly-trained surgeons at PKLI, he said.

King Edward Medical University arranged a walk to mark the day. Vice Chancellor Prof Khalid Masood Gondal led the walk participated by faculty, administrative doctors, medical students, nurses and paramedics. The participants were carrying placards and banners inscribed with writings regarding benefits of preventive measures, early detection and timely treatment of cancer.  Prof Gondal stressed the need of quitting smoking, adopting healthy lifestyle and taking balanced diet with enhanced intake of liquids and fruits to avoid cancer. He promised further increasing facilities for cancer patients at the Mayo hospital.

Pediatric cancer patient hold walk

A walk was organized at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre in connection with the World Cancer Day on Monday. Pediatric cancer patients, their families and hospital staff joined together to raise awareness about this deadly disease. Participants at the walk were holding colorful placards with the theme slogan of World Cancer Day – “I am, I will “. Although, kids at the walk were under treatment of different types of cancer, but they all were looking determined to defeat the cancer.

It is pertinent to mention that, in Pakistan Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre is the only institute which is providing financially supported cancer treatment to 75% of its patient. After SKMCH&RC Lahore and Peshawar, construction of third and Pakistan’s largest Shaukat Khanum Hospital has started in Karachi.