More women than men die of cancer in Pakistan annually

Published: February 6, 2019


ISLAMABAD: More women than men die of cancer in Pakistan, with more than 100,000 cancer-related deaths in the country.

This was disclosed by Dr Muhammad Farrukh, a Radiation Oncologist Consultant at the Shifa International Hospital (SIH) during a seminar to mark World Cancer Day.

He said that as many as 9.6 million people die each year worldwide from cancer. That is more than the people who die of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), malaria and tuberculosis combined.

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“If we do not act, experts project cancer deaths could rise to 13 million, by 2030,” he said, adding that more than a third of cancer cases can be prevented.

Another third can be cured if the disease is detected early and treated properly.

This can be done by implementing resource-appropriate strategies on prevention, early detection and treatment to save up to 3.7 million lives a year, Dr Farrukh said.

This year marks the launch of the three-year ‘I Am and I Will’ campaign. ‘I Am and I Will’ is an empowering call-to-action urging for personal commitment and represents the power of individual action taken now to impact the future.

Dr Farrukh said that cancer shall be the leading cause of death surpassing heart illness by the year 2030 according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). He went on to share the seven warning signs of cancer including changes in bathroom habits, a sore that does not heal, unusual discharge and bleeding from natural orifices, thickness or lumps in the breast or other places, indigestion and difficulty in swallowing, obvious changes in moles or warts and nagging cough and hoarseness.

He informed the audience that Pakistan as the seventh most populous country has an estimated cancer incidence of 148,041 new cases every year. Moreover, per data from 2012, there were 101,113 cancer-related deaths, including 48,449 among men and 52,664 among women, every year.

Further, there are around 344,243 patients living cancer at any given time.

Apart from having a higher death rate, the age-standardized ratio is more in females, 128 women to 95 men per 100,000 people, respectively.

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Dr Sanam Yasir, another consultant radiologist at SIH, said that cancer is a disease which occurs when changes in a group of normal cells within the body lead to uncontrolled, abnormal growth forming a lump called a tumour. Dr Yasir added that this was true of all cancers, except leukaemia.

“Reduce your risk of cancer by staying healthy, stay away from all forms of tobacco (cigarette, sheesha, niswar, hukka), avoid fast food, preserved foods, food colors, broiler chicken and excess white sugars,” Dr Yasir said, adding that one should preserve nature and environment by avoiding eating in foam cups and disposable plates, and instead use paper plates.  

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2019.

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