Now all types of cancer are fully curable provided the disease is detected in the early stages. It is mainly because medical science has made big strides in the treatment and detection of malignancy. Cancer is, however, still a frightening word. In Pakistan, more than a million people die of cancer every year, and breast cancer among women accounts for 16% of the fatalities. One out of nine women in the country is at risk of cancer. Women of all age groups contract cancer, and the common causes of breast cancer are obesity, late marriages, and having the first baby after the age of 35. It is mainly lack of knowledge that deteriorates cases of malignancy.
The high incidence of cancer in Pakistan and deaths from the disease are due chiefly to lack of awareness about the prevention and treatment for the illness. In recent years, awareness sessions are held at hospitals and universities as well as through the electronic media. Besides, October has been earmarked as the month of disseminating information on cancer. Throughout the month, public service messages are broadcast on the electronic media and by mobile phones. The print media is an important partner in the awareness drive. Pink Pakistan Trust leads the campaign. At special gatherings, people are informed about the early symptoms of the disease prompting those suspecting malignancy to consult doctors and approach detection centres, thereby facilitating early diagnosis. Chances of patients’ survival depend significantly on early detection of all types of the malignant disease, including breast cancer.
Cancer survivors too are contributing to raising awareness about the disease from public platforms. However, most women remain immune to cancer awareness campaigns due to the low female literacy rate in the country. The authorities need to focus on this shortcoming. The prevalence of superstition too leads people to believe more in quacks and rustic remedies than medical treatment. This is not surprising. What really is surprising is that people claim to have been cured of deadly illnesses by quacks.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2021.
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