By Muhammad Qasim
Rawalpindi: The incidence of all types of cancers is on the rise in Pakistan mainly because of unawareness among public though the major victims of the malignancies are females as four out of top six cancers in the country are related to female population.
Breast cancer tops the list and according to estimates, Pakistan has the highest burden of breast cancer in Asia while oral cavity cancer that affects both male and female population is ranked at number two.
The incidence of cancer of ovary and cervix is at number three and four respectively while colon cancer ranks at number five. The sixth most common cancer in Pakistan is cancer of uterus and it is also on the rise like the other types of cancers.
The incidence of cancers and loasses because of these are on the rise mainly because of lack of awareness among public on the subject including detection and treatment.
The incidence of cervical cancer, the cancer of the cervix, in Pakistan is ranked at number four despite the fact that it is preventable while breast cancer that can be detected early is causing the most deaths among cancer patients.
Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at Rawalpindi Medical College, who is heading gynaecology unit at Holy Family Hospital, Dr. Rizwana Chaudhary expressed this while talking to ‘The News’ in connection with World Cancer Day observed on February 4 around the globe.
She said there is a need of creating awareness among public particularly among female population on various aspects of cancers, their effects on daily life and measures for early detection or prevention.
The occurrence of cervical cancer can be detected in pre-invasive form, ten years before its incidence and it can be treated, she said. “It can be detected in a patient through a symptom test PAPSMEAR.”
To reduce the burden of cervical cancer and losses because of it, it is need of the time to develop a proper infrastructure for conducting Papsmear tests regularly, she said. In developed countries, citizens have to undergo Papsmear test after every three years however in Pakistan, the government has so far devised no strategy on the subject.
It is important that cervical cancer is not hereditary and it is caused by a common and easily transmissible virus called the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that can be transmitted sexually and during intimate skin contact, she explained. Undergoing Papsmear test after every three years may prevent cervical cancer, she said.
Studies reveal that cervical cancer can affect women of all ages. Up to 80 per cent of all women may be infected by HPV at some point in life although not all the HPV infections cause cervical cancer as most of them clear naturally, some can lead to cancer. Dr. Rizwana said that cervical cancer is a vaccine preventable cancer and by vaccination, along with screening, its incidence can be reduced to a significant extent.
She added that early detection of cancers in cases of breast cancer and cancer of uterus is possible and it may reduce the risk of mortality among patients while cancer of ovary is difficult to diagnose at early stages.
According to rough estimates, breast cancer claims over 40,000 lives in Pakistan every year and its rates are getting worse as it is haunting females in younger age group as well in the country.