With nearly 10 million people worldwide suffering from it, health experts fear cancer at its current growth rate will be one of the leading causes of death by 2020.
They estimate that over 200,000 people in Pakistan are diagnosed with cancer annually. However, contrary to the common perception, 90% of the patients can be cured if they are diagnosed early and treated in a timely manner.
This was the crux of a seminar at Shifa International Hospital (SIH) in connection with World Cancer Day on Saturday.
Speakers explained that just 5% of cancers are hereditary in nature, while the rest are caused due to multiple reasons. They pointed out that those vulnerable to the fatal disease are typically over 30 years old.
SIH Consultant Radiation Oncologist Dr Muhammad Ali Afridi said there are nearly 200 types of cancers in the world, which can be classified into six broad groups.
Among the six groups, carcinoma, which includes skin cancer and cancer inside body organs, is found in 70% of patients. Incidence of liver cancer is also rising in Pakistan, he added.
According to Consultant Medical Specialist Dr Matiur Rehman, tobacco is the main cause of a number of cancers. “Smoking causes almost 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% in women. If people quit smoking we can [reduce by 30% the number] of people falling victim to the disease,” he explained.
Dr Badarul Salam, consultant surgeon, said smoking, alcohol abuse, inactive lifestyle, unhealthy diet, obesity, infections and over-exposure to sun are some of the common causes of cancer, which can easily be avoided. He stressed on the need for better screening. “Early diagnosis means less invasive treatment, less trauma, less pain and less cost. So it pays to be vigilant.”
No consumption of tobacco
Avoiding unnecessary X-rays
Limiting consumption of alcohol/avoid binge drinking
Using personal protective clothing/devices at work
Avoiding too much exposure to sunlight/use sun block
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2012.