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October 10, 2019

Need for awareness


October 10, 2019

Like the rest of the world, Pakistan is marking World Breast Cancer Month in October. The sight of a larger number of pink ribbons marking the need to combat breast cancer is encouraging. Campaigns against the disease are being run in schools and colleges. Among Asian countries, Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer. According to the WHO, around 90,000 new cases are detected each year. Of these 40,000 end in death. This could easily be prevented by offering women better diagnostic facilities and also promoting a culture which allows them to recognize the symptoms and bring them to the attention of medical practitioners. Breast cancer is often curable when detected early. But most patients report it in its later stages when it is more likely to claim a life.

Experts have been unable to say why the rate of breast cancer is higher in Pakistan than in neighbouring countries. Environmental and cultural factors have both been blamed. It is important to understand why women, even those who live in larger cities, are so reluctant to report symptoms. Changing cultural practices and habits is not an easy task. It can only happen through a focused and consistent effort. It is pleasing to see that some corporations have joined in the effort to bring down the rate of this potentially deadly cancer in Pakistan and persuade women to learn more about it.

There is as yet only limited evidence that we are seeing much success in this. One of the reasons is that many of the victims or potential victims who suffer conditions that are pre-cancerous live in rural areas or smaller towns where there is still limited awareness and a limited tradition of consulting qualified doctors. We are country still lost in orthodox thoughts. It is important that families as units be educated about this disease so that they can act in time and prevent their female relations from being lost to an illness that can be treated. This message must go across widely so that families seek help before it is too late and encourage women in their circle to act quickly and without delay.

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