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Report shows alarming rise in breast cancer cases

KARACHI: Describing breast cancer as the leading cancer in its 2017 report, the Karachi Cancer Registry (KCR) has reported that it forms over 41 per cent of cancers among females and leads as well among all the malig­nancies recorded in both genders.

“Overall,” said Dr Shahid Pervez of Aga Khan Univer­sity Hospital on Thursday, “cancer of the oral cavity was found to be the leading malignancy (15.7pc) in males and in females breast cancer continued to top the list (41.2pc).”

Aggregating both genders, he added, breast cancer was the leading malignancy (21.3pc) followed by cancer of the oral cavity, colorectal cancer and liver cancer.

The KCR’s annual report, unveiled at the Karachi Press Club, shows the registry, which was revived after a gap of around a decade, highlighted “near-epidemic proportions” of breast cancer in females and oral (mouth) cancer in both males and females.

It said that when cancers were divided amongst two genders, in males, cancer of oral cavity was found to be the leading malignancy (15.7pc) followed by liver cancer and colorectal cancer.

In females, breast cancer is followed by cancers of oral cavity, ovary and colorectal cancer.

Similarly, the cancer data in children shows hematolymphoid malignancies like leukaemia and lymphomas as the leading cancer followed by brain and bone malignancies.

The KCR, which was formed by the Sindh government in 1995 and got dormant for more than a decade before being revived last year, shows in its report that breast cancer was 33.1pc in females between 1995 and 1997, which has increased alarmingly to 41.3pc in 2017.

Oral cavity cancer among females has decreased from 8.6pc in 1995-97 to 5.5pc last year.

However, among males, this is the leading cancer type, which was 11pc in 1995-97 and is now recorded at 15.7pc.

It said that about 90pc of oral (mouth) cancers were diagnosed in chewers of paan, chhalia, gutka and smokeless tobacco including naswar, hence these malignancies are preventable.

“Both breast and mouth cancers are also frequently diagnosed among young adults. This alarming scenario demands urgent attention to increase awareness about healthy lifestyle and highly adverse effects of chewing tobacco on one hand and screening programmes for early detection of breast and mouth cancer on the other.

“It has also been noted that colorectal (large intestine) cancer is on the rise and is ranked as third and fourth most common cancer in males and females respectively,” said the report.

It added that historically colorectal cancer was more prevalent in developed countries like Western Europe and North America.

“This increase may likely be due to western lifestyle and ever-increasing consumption of fast food and high-fat diet.”

It said liver cancer was also a very common cancer due to a high burden of hepatitis B and C in local population, which ranked as fourth most common cancer overall.

“Government’s attention at both provincial and central levels is urgently needed at preventive, early diagnostic (screening) as well as interventional levels,” said the report.

Cancer in children

The report says that out of a total of 7,015 cases received from five participating centres or hospitals, 110 — 65 boys and 45 girls — were children aged less than five years. Another 317 children — 223 boys and 94 girls — were aged between five to 14 years.

Hematolymphoid malignancies top the cancers among children which constituted 26.3pc of all with 23.5pc in boys and 32.7pc in girls. It was followed by brain malignancy (8.7pc).

Other malignancies were bone and articular cartilage, connective and soft issue, kidney and other urinary organ, eye, colon-rectum, endocrine gland and related structure, oral cavity, thymus, heart, pleura, skin and testis.

Dr Pervez said the KCR had started collection of cancer data from 2017 and invited all cancer diagnosing and treating doctors to send data on voluntary basis.

To date, he added, 11 sites had agreed to share their data with the KCR. However, data of a total of 7,015 cases was received from five participating hospitals. Out of those, 3,597 were males and 3,418 females.