Breast cancer: Awareness, early detection imperative

Published: January 24, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Not only is breast cancer the most prevalent disease among women worldwide-but one in eight women suffer from this life-threatening disease in Pakistan as well.

A leading cause of death for a plethora of women every year, the scourge can only be cured fully by early detection as well as effectual doctor consultation at the outset.

This was the crux every medical expert dispensed while discussing the pressing issue.

Samina Manzoor, a doctor at the Nuclear Oncology Research Institute, identified the symptoms of breast cancer which include diagnosis of a breast lump, a node in the axial, nipple discharge containing blood, nipple retraction, and changes in the skin.

“Some people have no symptoms at all,” she added.

Expounding on  the causes of breast cancer, Manzoor said it occurred in women who were unmarried, married late, did not bear a child after marriage or were overweight.

Another medical practitioner, Shazia Zahoor, giving precautionary measures women could take said that a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, adequate sleep, regular exercise, and avoiding exposure to chemicals are key.

She advised regular check-ups even if a woman was not suffering from any disease in particular.

“Social networking improves the condition of breast cancer patients,” the medical practitioner added.

Her views regarding social networking were endorsed by another research which claimed that breast cancer survivors with a strong social support system live longer and have a lower risk of the recurrence of the ailment.

Furthermore, the research elucidated that women with fewer social ties before and during the cancer treatment are at a higher risk of death from malignancy.

When asked about the heavy casualty rate in women due to breast cancer, Manzoor said that it was due to the negligence of sufferers owing to them coming at the third or fourth stage of treatment.

She lamented that treating breast cancer at the later stages led to the survival rate significantly decreased.

She said the elevated ratio of the deadly disease might be stemming from it not being diagnosed
early on. Amna Bibi, a mother of a breast cancer patient, said that the disease had a detrimental effect on the life of her daughter.

She added that once her daughter was diagnosed with the disease her son-in-law instead of taking care of her decided to divorce her.

The patient’s mother said that the social ramifications of the disease might be the reason why sufferers do not make it public-so it does not ruin their lives.

Ghaffar Khan, the husband of a patient, implored the government to construct more cancer hospitals  to cater to the increasing population of those afflicted.

Medical experts called on greater public awareness about the fatal ramifications of the disease to save lives.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2017.

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