Breast Cancer is One of Pakistan’s Deadliest Diseases: Samina Alvi

Islamabad, October 25, 2020 (PPI-OT):Pakistan has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in Asia and this cancer continues to be one of the most fatal diseases in the country, said the speakers at a breast cancer awareness event held, at the Aga Khan University, Karachi, today. Begum Samina Arif Alvi was the chief guest at the event held to create public awareness of the disease and to raise funds for the treatment of patients in need. During her speech at the event, Begum Samina Alvi highlighted the importance of early diagnosis of the disease. “If you detect breast cancer early, it can be treated and you can lead a normal life,” Begum Alvi said. “But if you ignore it, the consequences can be dire for a person and their family.” Begum Alvi recognised the role of the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in treating the country’s most complex cases of breast cancer and providing substantial support for the needy patients.

She also called on members of civil society to join hands to make diagnostic and treatment of the disease affordable for all Pakistanis, especially the underprivileged. Speakers at the event also discussed a number of myths about the disease such as that a woman is shielded from breast cancer if no one in her family has suffered from the disease or the mistaken belief that breastfeeding can protect one from the disease. “Breast cancer is not preventable but it is completely treatable if caught early,” said Dr Abida K. Sattar, head of breast surgery and Director of the Comprehensive Breast Surgery Programme at AKUH. “It often requires a combination of treatments such as medicine, radiation therapy and surgery. Early detection enables more effective, less extensive treatment that maximises the chance of preserving the breast.

” During her speech at the event, Dr Sattar recommended that all adult women conduct a breast self-examination once a month and urged women over the age of 40 to go for an annual mammogram. She also advised women to seek care without delay if they notice lumps in the breast or armpit, unusual skin or nipple changes, or experience discharge from the nipples. “Not all breast lumps are dangerous but all breast lumps need to be evaluated by a trained doctor,” Dr Sattar added. Other speakers at the session spoke about how the cost of treating the disease represented a barrier to patients seeking treatment.

They noted how AKUH was playing a role in expanding access to quality care for breast cancer patients through its welfare programmes, which offered subsidised care worth Rs 11 million to 485 needy inpatients in 2019. They also announced plans to set up an exclusive fund to finance the treatment of financially disadvantaged breast cancer patients. Other speakers at the event included AKU Medical College Dean Dr Adil Haider, AKUH Outreach Health Network Pakistan Chief Executive Officer Shagufta Hassan, Associate Professor of Paediatrics at AKU Dr Salman Kirmani and Senior Lecturer in Surgery at AKU Dr Saida Rasul.

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