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Hundreds walk at AKUH to raise awareness about breast cancer

A painless lump in the breast of a woman after the age of 40 is an indication that she is going to have breast cancer and she should immediately rush to a nearby cancer diagnosis facility for clinical examination and mammogram, and an X-ray for early signs of breast cancer.

“Every year around 400,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,000 of them die due to late diagnosis and inability to get the proper treatment. Breast cancer is curable if it is diagnosed early and the key to early detection is self-examination of breast and visiting a diagnosis facility,” said Prof Shaista Khan, head of breast surgery at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), while speaking at an awareness walk at the hospital on Friday evening.

Hundreds of women and men attended the walk organised by the hospital to mark its month-long awareness campaign. The event was attended by over 800 people, including celebrity guests, media personalities and activists.

The event featured talks by AKUH CEO Hans Kedzierski, breast surgeons and oncologists, and breast cancer survivors. One of the survivors who spoke at the event, Dr Saida Rasul, senior lecturer at the AKUH, shared her story of the treatment. “It is alright to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Early diagnosis is the key. The reason I survived was because of my yearly mammogram. My cancer was diagnosed at the right time.”

She added, “Men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer, which is why it is essential to have yearly check-ups.” Dr Saida Rasul has been in remission for 18 years now and has been able to get back to routine life. Professor Shaista Khan said the disease could be treated if diagnosed at an early age.

About one in nine women in Pakistan are diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life and in 40,000 women die every year because of this cancer. Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer in Asia. The incidence of death from breast cancer is higher in Pakistan because of a lack of awareness about regular screening and mammograms because of which people don’t access timely medical care.

Treatment for breast cancer is effective if started at an early stage. The AKUH’s “Let’s Defeat Breast Cancer Together” campaign began last year and has since become an annual event. Its month-long campaign focuses on spreading awareness among women about the importance of early diagnosis, and engaging with men to increase their awareness about the disease so that they may encourage women in their families to get screened.

Women’s health is often neglected and shame around women’s bodies as well as stigma around this disease prevents them from getting diagnosed in time.

“Our aim is to reach out to those women who haven’t reached us or who do not know anything about mammograms, breast cancer and early diagnosis,” said Dr Sana Zeeshan, breast surgeon at the AKUH.

The hospital held various activities during the month of October, including discounted screening mammograms, a breast check-up clinic at Aga Khan Hospital for Women, Garden, Facebook live sessions with a panel of doctors and surgeons, health information videos and competitions.

The News 

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