Towards a start: Specialised centres needed to treat bone cancer in Pakistan

Expert say such places exist in India, China; Pakistan needs one as travel not easy

Umer Farooq April 23, 2016

PESHAWAR: Treatment centres need to be developed in Pakistan as the neighbouring countries, including India and China, have set up centres to remove bone and soft tissue tumour via surgery.

This was said at the first-ever session on such tumours at Rehman Medical Institute (RMI) in Hayatabad on Saturday. Oncologists, radiologists and orthopaedic surgeons from different health facilities attended the session.

Experts said they had been treating patients for bone and soft tissue tumour for a long time. They insisted a specialised centre was the need of the hour as it is not possible for all patients to travel to another country for surgery as a single metal implant would cost up to Rs1 million.

“We are doing it so that different companies start services locally,” Dr Zeeshan Khan told The Express Tribune after the conference. “This will create an environment of competition and ultimately reduce costs.” Zeeshan is the first trained orthopedic oncologist surgeon in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He recently returned from United Kingdom after been trained for some 13 years and joined RMI as the specialist for bone and soft tissue tumour treatment.

United we stand

Zeeshan said work was under way to establish a cancer treatment unit. According to the expert, there is one at Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, but it only offers services to those who were diagnosed in the initial stages.

He added experts from the UK and India shared their experiences during the conference. Senior oncologist Dr Shair Muhammad told the media teamwork and communication between experts was necessary for speedy development in the field. He added all those involved must try for early detection as well as prevention of the cancer.

Rare type

Experts said sarcoma was a rare type if cancer, but there have been advancements in the management of the special type of tumor which could affect bones and muscles. The management of the special group of patients was neglected due to lack of awareness amongst doctors and patients.

They said orthopaedic surgeons trained to do sarcoma surgery should take the lead and work along with the team comprising specialist musculoskeletal radiologists, histopathologist, oncologist as well as physiotherapists.

Dr Ashish Gulia from Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India participated via video chat. He stressed upon treatment centres and exchange of ideas. “Awareness sessions should be held and exchange of students as well as research should be emphasised,” he said.

One the occasion, the chief guest on the occasion was K-P Assembly Deputy Speaker Meher Taj Roghani. She said doctors in K-P tertiary hospitals were under stress and could not find time for research since they had to deal with the influx of patients from across the province.

“I would love to help you in any legislation which helps health professionals,” Roghani added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2016.

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