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APP
February 17, 2020

‘Breast cancer has become most common cancer among Pakistani women’

Karachi

A
APP
February 17, 2020

Cancer is not a death sentence. Breast cancer has become the most common cancer among women in Pakistan. Roughly one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lives. Almost 30 per cent of female cancer patients are afflicted with breast cancer.

These observations were made by Dr Ruffina Soomro, professor of surgery at the Liaquat National Hospital, while addressing the 56th public awareness seminar on breast cancer at the University of Karachi’s Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research.

The centre and the Virtual Education Project Pakistan jointly organised the seminar, according to a statement released to the media on Sunday. Dr Ruffina said that the chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman’s death is about one in 36, which is around three per cent.

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

She lamented that many people in the country are misguided by different kinds of alternative unscientific methods. The delay in treatment leads to advanced cancer stages and makes the treatment of the disease challenging.

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

Some studies suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer, she said, adding that it seems that one drink a day increases the risk slightly and having two to five drinks per day can increase the risk by 1.5 times.

“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 said while rejecting a myth about the disease.

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

For good breast health, the three-step approach is required, which includes self-examination, clinical examination and mammography, she mentioned. The professor rejected the myth that alternative therapies are effective without surgery and chemo, as cancer treatment is usually worse than the disease.

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