KARACHI                    -              A lady professor of surgery has said that cancer is not a death sentence while breast cancer has become the commonest cancer in women of Pakistan, stating that roughly one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their life.

She said that almost 30 per cent of cancers in women were breast cancers, adding the chance that breast cancer would be responsible for a woman’s death was about one in 36, which was about 3 per cent.

Rufina Soomro, the professor of Surgery at the Liaquat National Hospital, was speaking at the 56th Public Awareness Seminar on “Breast Cancer” held at the Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), University of Karachi here on Thursday. Dr Panjwani Center and Virtual Education Project Pakistan (VEPP) jointly organised the seminar.

The lady professor said that around 80 per cent of women with breast cancer had no family history, saying that risk for breast cancer increases with age, as about 77 per cent of women with breast cancer are over age 50 at the time of diagnosis.

She lamented that many people in the country were misguided by various kinds of alternate unscientific methods. She added that delay in treatment leaded to advance in cancer stage caused a challenge to treat the fatal disease.

She said that risk factors of breast cancer included women over the age of 40 years, early menarche, late menopause, late first child, alcohol use, radiation, geographic location, diet, obesity, cancer in other breast, family history, and etc.

Some studies suggest that drinking alcohol can increase breast cancer risk, she said, and added that it seemed that while one drink a day increased risk slightly, having 2 to 5 drinks per day could increase risk 1.5 times.

Dr. Soomro said, “No one dies of Breast cancer but only of cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.” Cancer is not a death sentence, she mentioned while rejecting a myth about the disease.

Advances in cancer detection and treatment have increased survival rates for most common types of cancer, she pointed out, adding that symptoms of the disease included severe nausea and vomiting, hair loss are much less common these days, while managing side effects remains an important part of cancer care.

Good breast health is three steps approach including self-examination, clinical examination and mammography, she mentioned.

The professor rejected the myth that alternate therapies were effective without surgery and chemo, as cancer treatment was usually worse than the disease. She also discarded the idea that if someone was diagnosed with cancer, he or she would probably die.

Dr. Somroo urged Pakistani women to stop smoking, limit alcohol intake, eat well-balanced nutritious diet, and do physical exercise.