Breast cancer becomes common cancer in Pakistan: Dr. Ruffina

KARACHI:Cancer is not a death sentence while breast cancer has become the most common cancer among the women in Pakistan; roughly one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their life.

Almost 30 percent of women cancer patients are of breast cancer. This was informed by Dr. Ruffina Soomro, Professor of Surgery at Liaquat National Hospital, while speaking at the 56th Public Awareness Seminar on “Breast Cancer” held at the Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research, University of Karachi. Dr. Panjwani Center and Virtual Education Project Pakistan jointly organized the seminar, said press release on Sunday.

She said the chance that breast cancer would be responsible for a woman’s death was about one in 36, which was about 3 percent.

The lady professor said that around 80 percent of women with breast cancer had no family history, saying that risk for breast cancer increases with age, as about 77 percent of women with breast cancer are over age 50 at the time of diagnosis.

She lamented that many people in the country were misguided by various kinds of alternate unscientific methods. The delay in treatment leaded to advance in cancer stage caused a challenge to treat the fatal disease.

She said that risk factors of breast cancer in women of over 40 years age included early menarche, late menopause, late first child, alcohol use, radiation, geographic location, diet, obesity, cancer in other breast and family history.

Some studies suggest that drinking alcohol could increase breast cancer risk, she said adding that it seemed one drink a day increased risk slightly and having 2 to 5 drinks per day could increase risk 1.5 times.

Dr. Soomro said, ” No one dies of breast cancer but only of cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.”

“Cancer is not a death sentence,” she said while rejecting a myth about the disease.

Advances in cancer detection and treatment had increased survival rates for most common types of cancer, she pointed out and said that symptoms of the disease included severe nausea and vomiting, hair loss are much less common these days, while managing side effects remains an important part of cancer care.

For good breast health, three steps approach is required which included self-examination, clinical examination and mammography, she mentioned.

The professor rejected the myth that alternate therapies were effective without surgery and chemo, as cancer treatment was usually worse than the disease.

Dr. Somroo urged Pakistani women to stop smoking, limit alcohol intake, eat well-balanced nutritious diet, and do physical exercise.