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Late diagnosis of breast cancer

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Dr. Fehmida Mirza Saturday said that lack of awareness and stigmas contributors to the late diagnosis of Breast Cancer. 

She was speaking as a chief guest at the breast cancer awareness seminar under the slogan “Give Hope, Save Lives” followed by an awareness walk organized by the Atomic Energy Cancer Hospital (AECH), NORI.

Dr. Fehmida Mirza stressed on the need for awareness about breast cancer not only in females but also in males and told how three of her male family members got affected with breast cancer.

In her address, the minister shared her experience as a cancer survivor saying, “We never realize its horror until it hits us.”

She shared how her fight against cancer made her realize that she should take up the issue at the Parliament being the Speaker of the house and that was when the awareness-related campaign started.

Talking about the need for Centralized Cancer Registry, the minister expressed concern on the alarming figures about Pakistan where only 10% cancer patients are diagnosed at stage-1 whereas in developed countries the ratio of diagnosis at the early stage was 50%.

The minister further said that all provinces especially Sindh government should ensure that Prime Minister’s initiative of Health Cards (Sehat Sahulat Card) be provided to all citizens in the province like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

“This was of crucial importance because after devolution of health ministry, the responsibility of provinces has increased manifold and since lack of resources on part of the patients was major reason for late diagnosis, provinces should work hard to reduce gap between increasing population and depleting health services,” she said.

She also asked all media houses to play their role in spreading awareness by broadcasting prime-time shows regarding breast cancer.

Earlier, Director, Atomic Energy Cancer Hospital (AECH) NORI, Dr. Mohammad Faheem welcomed the participants of the awareness activity and shared details about the newly added facilities at the hospital which included the addition of high energy linear accelerator, cyber knife, PET CT, Digital Mammography with Tomosynthesis and other equipment.

He shared the alarmingly high figures of breast cancer prevalence among women in Pakistan saying that Breast Cancer accounts for nearly 40 % of all female malignancies which is the highest in Asia and it constitutes 25% in both the genders”

Wife of Chairman PAEC, Mrs. Muneera Naeem who attended the seminar as guest of honor, in her address stressed on need for early diagnosis being key to cure cancer. She appreciated the role of PAEC cancer hospitals and proudly shared that out of total 35 cancer treatment hospitals in Pakistan, 18 were being run by PAEC and the 19th in Gilgit (GINOR) would soon start operations as its has been completed recently.

Cancer survivors including Member National Assembly (MNA), Shaheen Saifullah who is also Member of Patient Support Group NORI shared their experience of fighting the disease with the help of NORI team. She stressed on the emotional support from the families for the patients.

She appreciated the dedication, patience and professional attitude of NORI doctors especially Dr. Faheem, Dr. Humera Mahmood and Dr. Kashif.

On this occasion, Head Oncology Department NORI, Dr. Humera Mahmood headed a ‘Breast Cancer Panel Talk’ and shared very informative details about the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer followed by Question and Answer (Q&A) session.

It was stressed in the discussion that cancer patients need to be treated irrespective of stage of the disease, age, and financial status.

PAEC hospitals in general and NORI in particular provide treatment to all patients without any discrimination. Importance of healthy lifestyle and dietary habits was also emphasized. Dr. Humera mentioned how technology was utilized by NORI in the form of awareness webinars involving different schools, colleges, universities and other forums.

The event ended with distribution of gifts among the childhood cancer survivors of AECH NORI by honorable minister Dr. Fehmida Mirza which was followed by an awareness walk. | YouTube Channel

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.