Islamabad : Almost one in every 10 suspected patients of breast cancer were found to be living with the disease in 2018 in this region of the country and according to experts, the same is the ratio of incidence of the problem in overall population of the country.
Data collected by ‘The News’ on Thursday has revealed that the federal breast cancer screening centre established here at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in 2015 received a total of 16,648 females in 2018 of which as many as 3,800 patients were requiring mammography and 380 were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Not only at the PIMS centre but also across Pakistan, one in every 10 suspects is being diagnosed with breast cancer, said Project Director at the federal breast cancer centre Professor Dr. Ayesha Esani Majeed while talking to ‘The News’ on Thursday.
She said the number of patients may be higher in Pakistan because only a limited patients visit screening centres as majority of people do not afford fee for diagnosis. “Pakistan lacks badly the screening centres in public sector and most of the suspects have to opt for private laboratories that cost Rs5,000 or more for mammography.”
The federal breast cancer screening centre that is first of its kind in Pakistan in public sector provides all diagnostic facilities including ultrasound and mammography totally free of cost to all patients visiting for screening, said Dr. Ayesha.
She added that since its establishment in 2015, the centre is recording continuous increase in number of breast cancer patients. In 2015, the centre received as many as 10176 visitors and in 2016, 11871 females visited PIMS centre while in 2017, a total of 13269 females reported at the centre for screening. In 2018, the centre recorded 25 per cent increase in number of breast cancer patients as compared to the number in 2017, she said.
The data I have been going through about reported cases of breast cancer in Pakistan hints that thousands of lives can be saved every year if provinces work out establishment of free screening facilities for breast cancer at rural health centre and basic health units level, said Dr. Ayesha. She added that none of the provinces is providing facility of breast cancer screening free of cost.
She said the number of visitors at the PIMS centre is witnessing continuous increase and it may be because of awareness though there is still much awareness needed particularly among female part of the society on importance of screening in case of suspicion.
Dr. Ayesha who is a radiologist said media should help inform population in the region that everything including ultrasound, mammography and biopsy is being provided free of cost at the federal breast cancer screening centre so that maximum number of patients can get benefit of the facility.
She said the centre is being run almost in isolation and all staff members are female. Men are not allowed in the centre and females can have screening facilities without any hesitation on any working day from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The patients are screened the same day, they visit the centre, she said.
The most important thing to avoid deaths by breast cancer is awareness among public along with screening facility and people must be educated that every suspect needs immediate screening. Without facilitating population on screening and treatment facilities, the life threat cannot be controlled, said Dr. Ayesha.