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Newspost

February 5, 2012
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NOORI treats more than 80% cancer patients: Dr Fahim

Newspost

February 5, 2012

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What upsets doctors the most about cancer is that the malignant growth or tumour caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division claims millions of lives worldwide every year though a sizeable number of them could be prevented without much money or bother.
“Millions of people around the world are risking their life by adopting unhealthy lifestyle, a major cause of cancer. Let me tell you one third of cancers can be prevented only if we change our lifestyles and dietary habits by maintaining weight to a reasonable level, taking balanced diet and involving ourselves in physical activities,” Professor Dr Muhammad Fahim, of Nuclear Medicine Oncology and Radiotherapy Institute (NORI), told a World Cancer Day function on cancer management on Saturday.
According to Dr Fahim, another one third of cancers can be cured with early detection and treatment. He said cancer claimed more lives in the world every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis collectively did.
“If we look into the gravity of problem (cancer) in the world, every year, 12.7 million people hear the bad breaking news that they suffer from cancer, while 7.6 million people die of it every year. This figure represents almost the entire population of Switzerland. If this trend continues and corrective steps are not taken without delay, then the number could surge to around 80 per cent by 2030,” he said.
The oncologist said NORI, which was one of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission’s cancer hospitals treating more than 80 per cent of the country’s cancer patients, began functions in 1983 and since, fight against cancer had been its constant endeavour.
“We are the first hospital of its kind in the capital city providing modern diagnostic and treatment facilities to sufferers of a wide range of pathologies. We are catering to more than 15 million people from Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Upper Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan and some

Arab countries. Patients from other regions, too, visit us for treatment and second opinion,” he said.
According to Dr Fahim, NORI is attending to more than 3,600 new cancer patients after treating more than 46,000 sufferers of the deadly disease at oncology department. The count of visitors to other departments is also on the rise.
He said NORI equipped with high energy linear accelerators, CT simulator, HDR brachytherapy, dual head gamma cameras, gamma probes for sentinel lymph node biopsy, most modern chemotherapy day care unit and 100 bedded oncology ward was on a par with any internationally known cancer hospital.
The oncologist said in modern era, cancer treatment couldn’t be carried out by a single specialty.
“Neither a surgeon nor an oncologist alone can treat a patient. It is the multimodality approach involving different specialties including surgery, oncology, pathology, diagnostic radiology, gynaecology, psychiatry, nutrition and oncology,” he said.
He said at NORI, MDMs began 26 years ago with the department of head and neck surgery of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences and since then, these meetings had been taking place regularly. He further said in these meetings, thousands of cancer cases had been discussed and cured.
“I feel here my obligation to appreciate the collaboration of ENT department of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. Professor Anjum Khawar is always there with her team. For the last two years, Oro maxilla facial surgeons of Islamic International Medical College and Margalla College of dentistry have also joined us. In 2008, we began meetings with the surgical department of PIMS.
The credit goes to Professor Aslam Shah, head of the department of surgery at PIMS and his team. In another two months time, we began MDM with mother child health care centre of PIMS. Professor Ghazala Mahmood and Professor Dr Syeda Batool were very kind to agree to meetings every fortnight.” According to Dr Fahim, neuro-onco-pathology meetings are being conducted on a monthly basis and Professor Dr Khaliquz Zaman a dynamic personality behind starting these meetings. These meetings can never be successful without active participation of Dr Mohammad Tahir, who heads pathology department of Federal Government Polyclinic Hospital, Professor Dr Nasir Saleem of pathology department of PIMS, and Professor Dr Ayesha Isani Majeed of radiology department, PIMS.
“Last but not the least, in this era of cyber world we are not behind anybody. We have got Professor Dr Asif Zafar Malik who is the pioneer of telemedicine in Pakistan. With his untiring efforts we have been conducting videoconferencing on a weekly basis with the surgical department of Holy Family Hospital , Rawalpindi , for the last two and a half years. We are also interested to start MDM with other specialties including Urology and Pulmonology.
“I hope that collaboration with different departments from hospitals of the twin cities will be very helpful in our fight against the devastating disease of cancer,” he said.
In her presentation, Dr Humera Mahmood, consultant oncologist at NORI, said around 400,000 new cancer cases were reported every year due to hereditary reasons, bad diet, obesity, smoking/sheesha, long-term exposure to chemicals/asbestos and radiations, harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, viruses and alcohol.
She further said dietary components associated with cancer included alcohol, pickled and smoked foods, salt cured fish and meat cooking releases nitrosamines, cooking methods like frying or charcoal broiling meats at very high temperatures, heterocyclic amines, synthetic additives including coloring agents, flavor ingredients, artificial sweeteners and solvents, and hot beverages.
According to her, smoking accounts for about one third of all cancer related deaths. “It remains the most important avoidable cancer risk. In the 20th century, around 100 million people died world-wide from tobacco-associated diseases.” The oncologist said a recent study found that areca-nut paan with and without tobacco increased oral cancer risk by 9.9 and 8.4 times, respectively.
She said according to WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2002, worldwide 17.8 per cent of human cancers worldwide were caused by infection and 11.9 per cent by one of seven different viruses.
Dr Humera said cancer might be easily prevented through vaccination, diagnosed with simple blood tests and treated with less-toxic antiviral compounds and that the most desirable and cost effective means of reducing its incidence was polypharmaceutical approach and use of anticarcinogens in human diet.
“The US Food and Drug Administration approved vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix for cancer, which is highly effective in preventing infection with certain types of HPV. HPV vaccination has the potential to reduce cervical cancer deaths around the world by as much as two-thirds. It also prevents anal cancer in men and women. Gardasil can also prevent genital warts,” she said.
The oncologist said immunizing individuals against hepatitis B would lead to a decrease in the incidence of hepatocellular cancer. She said cancer prevention began in childhood by adopting healthy lifestyle, good eating habits, plenty of exercise, maintaining healthy weight, avoiding sunburns, HPV vaccines for young girls and no smoking.
To prevent cancer, she suggested a ‘5 for the road’ i.e. eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; discover the pleasure of physical activity; stay tobacco free; enjoy a low-fat diet; protect yourself from the sun between 10:00am and 4:00pm.
At the function’s end, Dr Fahim announced that NORI would host a three days annual conference on oncology from February 9 to February 11. Shields were also given to many doctors for their struggle against cancer. There followed a World Cancer Day walk on the premises.

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