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Breast cancer kills 40,000 annually ‘but remains a taboo’

Breast cancer kills 40,000 annually ‘but remains a taboo’

Karachi: Despite the fact that Pakistan accounts for 40,000 deaths annually induced by breast cancer, the subject largely remains a taboo in public forums.
Doctors regret that reproductive health and procreative behaviour are given little or no attention in public policy discussions because of cultural taboos and sensitivities.
“Open discussion about breast cancer can lead to increased awareness as the goal is to catch cancer early,” said Dr Aminah Khan while talking to the APP news agency on Tuesday.
She said awareness, self-examination and the availability to see a doctor if a woman felt a breast lump were key to women, especially in rural areas where they traditionally did not draw attention to their diseases owing to the families’ limited means.
The expert referred to DKT Pakistan’s programme called Dhanak being implemented in the rural areas of Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where community midwives provided key services to improve family planning and maternal and reproductive health of women.
Dhanak health centres and mobile units with trained female community midwives and lady health workers go door to door educating women about their health for all ages and stages.
Dr Shirin Khan, a senior physician, said equal attention was needed to cater to the needs of women living in urban slums and lower income sections settled in urban centres.
“The inhabitants, particularly women and girls, in these areas along with their rural counterparts need to be educated,” she said.
The doctors also sought empowering underserved women, vulnerable populations, adolescent girls and youth so that they can fully understand and capitalise on their reproductive health options.
According to the World Health Organisation, Pakistan has the highest incidence of breast cancer in Asia, with almost every 8th women having breast cancer in her life.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Pakistan and different studies show it kills nearly 40,000 women every year.
The WHO report published earlier this year also warned that breast cancer rates were getting worse and it was not even sparing the younger age group.
Women in developing countries tend to die at greater rates than in developed countries because the disease is generally detected when it is in an advance stage.
One of the reasons for this is the social setup, where women are reluctant to undergo medical check-ups or express their medical issues.
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