Pakistan has highest prevalence of breast cancer in Asia, moot told


KARACHI: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women around the world. Pakistan has the highest prevalence of breast cancer in Asia. Breast cancer may be a devastating disease but it is potentially curable. Around 60 per cent cases of cancer come from Fata region at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre (SKMCH&RC). Drone attacks may be one of the major causes of cancer prevalence in the Fata region. Breast cancer is not contagious.”

Health experts stated this at the “Breast Cancer Awareness Session” held in Prof. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui Auditorium, International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi (UoK) on Thursday. Senior Medical Officer University of Karachi organised the session in collaboration with Shoukat Khanum Memorial Trust.

Dr. Esha Saqib of SKMCH&RC-Lahore, Dean Pharmacy UoK Dr. Ghazala, Ms. Atika of SKMCH&RC and Dr. Sadia expressed their views on the occasion.

Dr. Esha Saqib said that the progression of breast cancer was associated with genes. Some women inherit changes in breast cancer genes. These women are at a much higher risk of developing breast cancer, which may be at a young age, she maintained.

“Estrogen is a hormone which is normally produced in females and takes part in reproductive function. Women who are overexposed to estrogen due to early periods, late menopause or late childbirth, may be at a relatively increased risk of breast cancer. Post menopausal women who take hormone replacement therapy have also been shown to have an increased chance of breast cancer. Once a woman stops taking hormone replacement therapy, her risk of developing breast cancer decreases. Women who gain weight especially with increased waist girth, around the age of menopause, have been shown to have increased chance of breast cancer and breast cancer related death,” she said.

Talking about the symptoms, she said that some changes that could be due to breast cancer are: a lump or thickening in an area of the breast, a change in the size or shape of a breast, dimpling of the skin or the skin over the breast becomes like orange peel, an eczema like rash or ulcer over the breast, and a swelling or lump in armpit.

These signs don’t necessarily mean one has cancer but if someone notices any such changes, she should get a checkup, she stated.

There is several treatment modalities used for breast cancer patient, while surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy and new therapies are of them, Dr. Esha said.

She clarified that breast cancer was not caused by the use of microwave, colours of cloth, caffeine, and use of cell phone and deodorant. The disease is not communicable, she said.

Talking about causes, she said, “The causes of breast cancer aren’t fully understood. However, there are risk factors that are known to affect women, including alcohol, smoking, radiation, overweight, family history, age and exposure to oestrogen.

Ms. Atika of SKMCH&RC said that this was unfortunate that Pakistan had the highest prevalence of breast cancer in Asia. Scientists, students and well aware people are required to educate women in their surroundings, she said and announced that the second Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital was being setup in Peshawar as about 60 per cent cases of cancer come from Fata region at the hospital.

Dean Pharmacy UoK Dr. Ghazala said that environmental pollution, physiological and socio-economic factors caused breast cancer all over the world. She said that high prevalence of cancer in the Fata region may be due to drone attacks.