Wednesday March 22, 2023

Number of cancer cases on continuous rise

February 05, 2023

Rawalpindi : The number of cases of almost all types of cancers in Pakistan is on a continuous rise and the number of cases being registered at the healthcare facilities is increasing rapidly though the treatment and management facilities for cancer patients are much limited in the country.

It cannot be ascertained whether the rise in reporting of cases is due to greater incidence of the disease, awareness among the general public, or because of a greater number of screening of patients. It is important that various types of cancers claim well over 100,000 lives every year in Pakistan while over 300,000 new individuals are diagnosed with cancer every year adding up to the existing pool of millions of cancer patients in the country.

It is important to mention that services of not a single oncologist are available to patients in public sector hospitals across the Rawalpindi division. Not a single oncologist is serving at the three allied hospitals in Rawalpindi including Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, and District Headquarters Hospital. Principal Rawalpindi Medical College Professor Dr. Jahangir Sarwar Khan informed ‘The News’ that a post of oncologist was announced by RMC recently but no oncologist applied for the post or appear for an interview. It is important that Professor Jahangir heads the surgery department at RMC and his unit provides a facility for surgical procedures for cancer patients.

He said his department is working in close coordination with NORI, a cancer hospital in the federal capital established by the Atomic Energy Commission of Pakistan in 1983. NORI is providing treatment facilities to over 40000 patients belonging to Islamabad, Rawal­pindi, Jhelum, Sargodha, Hazara, and AJK.

The only oncology department serving in a public sector hospital in this region of the country is at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences which receives 60 to 70 patients per day and the number of cancer patients being reported at the Oncology Department of PIMS is continuously on the rise. The PIMS oncology department provides limited facilities to patients suffering from various types of cancers. World Cancer Day which is observed on February 4 around the globe has a theme of ‘Close the Care Gap’ this year but in Pakistan, a lot is yet to be done to provide sufficient treatment facilities to cancer patients. Experts say that an increase in the number of cancer cases can be attributed to incidence, awareness or screening but nothing can be assumed in the absence of proper data at the national level.