Every ninth woman at risk of breast cancer in Pakistan, Seminar told

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Karachi: One out of every nine women in Pakistan faces the risk of breast cancer during her lifetime. Thousands of lives are lost each year due to late diagnosis. But with early detection, the survival rate soars to an impressive 90%. Experts shared this at a seminar held at Jinnah Sindh Medical University arranged by Student Academic Society and the Institute of Family Medicine on October 17, 2023. The aim was to highlight critical aspects such as risk factors, early detection, treatment options, and challenging the prevalent social taboos associated with this disease.

The event commenced with a documentary, “Epidemiology of Breast Cancer in Pakistan and its Signs and Symptoms,” stressing the need for urgent screening and diagnosis methods. Attendees gained insights into available treatment options and the importance of post-treatment follow-ups.

During the session, guest speakers, Dr. Anum Arshad Beg Head of Family Medicine, DUHS, Dr. Farah Shah Consultant General Surgeon, JPMC, and Dr. Ghansham Consultant General and Breast Surgeon, JPMC, shared their expert knowledge. They also stressed the need for regular self-examinations for women below 40 and the importance of mammography screenings for women above 40.

Highlighting the urgency of the situation, Dr Ghansham stressed that screening of close female relatives of any breast cancer patient needs to start earlier than usual. ‘If the mother was diagnosed at 35 years of age, her daughters must begin screening at 25 years, he explained. He urged the audience to make use of the free breast cancer screening facility available at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

Registrar JSMU, Dr. Azam Khan, stated, “Pakistan holds the highest incidence of breast cancer in Asia and ranks eighth globally in breast cancer-related fatalities. We urge everyone to join us in raising awareness about the risks and empowering women to seek timely treatment.”

The event also tackled the stigma surrounding breast cancer, striving to normalize open discussions. It emphasized the importance of annual screening mammograms for women over 40 and encouraged those with a family history or other risk factors to seek medical advice even sooner.

The session was attended by Dr Kiran Zeeshan, in charge Institute of Family Medicine alongwith her faculty members, Deputy Registrar Dr Surayya Sarwat, Additional Director CME Dr Rahat Naz, Controller Examination Dr Anita Shah, Head of Student Council Prof Kefi Iqbal, Head of Physiology Dr Nurunnisa, and Dr Nazish Jafar.

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