By: Ikram Junaidi
ISLAMABAD: Breast cancer continues to account for the highest number of new cancer cases among women in Pakistan while lung cancer has the highest number of incident cases for men. However, as a whole, lung cancer claims more lives in the country.
This was stated in a study, “The global burden of cancer 2013” conducted by an international consortium of researchers coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
According to the study, among the Pakistani men the number of new lung cancer cases doubled between 1990 and 2013 – up from 7,700 to 15,500.
Among the leading cancers, the number of esophageal cancer in men was one of the lowest at 5,600 in 2013, up from 2,600 in 1990. During this period, breast cancer cases among women more than tripled, from 16,900 to 54,400. Within the top 10 causes of cancer incidence for women, leukemia showed the lowest number at 4,400 in 2013, up from 1,700 in 1990.
“Cancer remains a major threat to people’s health in Pakistan and around the world,” said oncologist Dr Christina Fitzmaurice, a visiting fellow at the IHME and the lead author of the study. “Controlling cancer will ensure that as life expectancy continues to climb, people’s lives are not just longer but healthier.”
Deaths from lung cancer were the highest among men in Pakistan, nearly doubling in number from 7,300 in 1990 to14,500 in 2013.
Deaths from breast cancer were the highest for women, more than doubling to16,200 in 2013, up from 7,100 in 1990.
Among the top 10 causes of cancer deaths in Pakistan, mouth cancer showed the lowest number of male deaths at 3,400 in 2013, up from 1,700 in 1990, and stomach cancer resulted in one of the lower numbers of deaths for women at 2,500 in 2013, up from 1,200 in 1990.
The study shows that in 2013, there were 14.9 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths worldwide.
The leading cause of cancer incidence for men was prostate cancer which caused 1.4 million new cases and 293,000 deaths.
Lung cancer remained one of the leading causes of incident among men between 1990 and 2013 but prostate cancer cases increased more than threefold during this period due in part to the population growth and aging.
For women, similar factors contributed to the global rise in breast cancer incidence. In 2013, there were 1.8 million new cases of breast cancer and 464,000 deaths. Breast cancer has remained the leading cause of incident cancer cases for women between 1990 and 2013 but the number of new cases more than doubled during this period.
Other leading causes of incident cases globally included cervical cancer, up by nine per cent since 1990, lymphoma, up 105 per cent.
The death toll from cancer is also changing as new cases increase.
In 2013, cancer was the second-leading cause of death globally after cardiovascular disease and the proportion of deaths around the world due to cancer has increased from 12 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2013.
Lung cancer, stomach cancer and liver cancer have remained the three leading causes of cancer for both sexes combined during this period. Lung cancer deaths have increased by 56 per cent, stomach cancer deaths by 10 per cent and liver cancer deaths by 60 per cent.
Dr Waseem Khawaja of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) told Dawn that there were some general symptoms of cancer.
“Cancer is the name of an improper growth of cells in any part of the body. Moreover, cells in the body change their shapes. Usually, a hard lump appears in the body and it stops the functioning of a particular part of the body,” he said.
Whenever a person is affected by cancer, their weight starts decreasing and the patient feels pain in the affected part of the body. In case of stomach cancer, patient starts vomiting blood and suffers from fever.
He said the media should create awareness in the country because normally people come to know about the disease at the last stage.
“Every person should have basic medical tests once a year,” he added.