KARACHI-Around 90,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in Pakistan every year and approximately half of them die because of late presentation, while one in nine Pakistani women may develop breast cancer.

These views were shared by Dr Bushra Shirazi from the Breast Surgery Oncology department of Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) in a programme organised in connection with Breast Cancer Day in SIUT’s Hanifa Suleman Dawood auditorium, said a news release on Wednesday.  Highlighting the last three years performance of the department, Dr Bushra said that we had treated about 500 breast cancer patients. Majority are between the ages of 30-50 years. 

The breast oncology clinic is held on Mondays on the first floor of Hanifa Suleman Dawood Oncology building. It is a combined clinic run in a joint approach with breast surgeons, medical, radiation oncologist and radiologist.

Talking about breast cancer and its various treatments Dr Narjis Muzaffar said that the services provided at the clinic were from clerking in a new patient to onsite breast ultrasounds and biopsies which cuts down the waiting period for diagnosis and treatment.

She highlighted that the breast unit provided treatment under one roof including diagnostics, surgery, chemotherapy facilities and radiation therapy.

Dr Narjis Muzaffar pointed out the different methods of treating breast cancer with chemotherapy, targeted therapy and hormonal therapy. 

Dr Narjis further said that not all patients were candidates for or required chemotherapy as treatment depended on many factors including the stage of the disease, the biology of the tumour, co-existing medical problems and age of the patients. 

She also said that all chemotherapy agents had side effects but these were temporary and were reversible.

Speaking on the occasion, the experts said that the breast cancer was the most common cancer of women in the World and Pakistan had the highest rate of breast cancer in the South Asia. 

In Pakistan patients present late for diagnosis and treatment due to lack of access to healthcare and education, they said. 

They said that the daily wages in our country translated to less than twenty thousand per month, whereas the treatment of breast cancer could run into thousands of rupees and so was not within the reach of the common man. 

It may noted here that SIUT provides complete free of cost treatment that goes into lacs of rupees per patient. It is, therefore, not surprising that our number of patients has grown over the past 3 years. Women now come not only for treatment but also to get advice for breast cancer screening.

The experts stressed the need of nationwide awareness and implementation of cancer preventive measures to check this growing menace. Countries with limited resources and confronting financial constraints, should aim for efforts at early detection which could be cost effective by reducing the stage at diagnosis and, therefore, improving the survival rate and recovery.