ISLAMABAD, Feb 4 – Medical oncologists Tuesday emphasized the need for urgent action to increase early stage cancer detection, screening, and diagnosis to significantly improve cancer patients’ chances of survival as ‘Cancer’ has emerged as a major health threat in country.
Health experts believe that lack of mass awareness about cancers, their signs and symptoms, is one of the major causes of delayed presentation.
On the eve of World Cancer Day, Executive Director Indus Hospital Karachi Dr. Muhammad Shamvil Ashraf talking to private news channel said cancer is now one of the world’s biggest healthcare challenges where every year million people die worldwide due to cancer.
This year, “I am and I will” is the theme and it acknowledges that everyone has the capacity to act in the face of cancer, he mentioned.
World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.
Cancer is a large group of diseases that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, go beyond their usual boundaries to invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs, he explained.
World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the world will see a 60% increase in cancer cases over the next two decades, he said.
He underscored the need for creating more awareness among the people about the causes leading to the spread of the Cancer to put the brakes on the prevalence of this disease in the country.
World Cancer Day with a special event targets all segments of the society and educate them about cancer and ways to prevent it in a simplified recreational way, In addition to emphasizing the importance of early detection of the disease.
He said that we don’t need to fear cancer as it was completely curable if detected at an early stage.
Dr Ashraf said that excessive use of fast oily and highly salty food, use of various colors in food, tin-packed food, vegetables grown with polluted water etc could cause cancer.
He said that smoking causes more than 16 types of cancer and every fifth cancer death was due to tobacco.
He said there are established physical, psychological, or socioeconomic barriers to accessing early cancer detection, such as age, gender issues, feelings of shame and fear, and poor health awareness.
Feelings of shame and fear, combined with poor health awareness and cultural beliefs, can also keep people from seeking medical care or screening programs, he added.
However, to change these behaviors, cancer awareness,raising efforts must stress the importance of early diagnosis and encourage early help-seeking, he said.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells that can affect almost any part of the body. The growth often invades surrounding tissue and can metastasize to distant sites.
Lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancers cause the most cancer deaths in Pakistan.
Another Oncologist Dr Ahmad Hamid stressed for strong early detection and timely diagnosis measures must be a part of any country’s national cancer control plan, alongside concrete measures to improve cancer prevention, treatment, and care.
Detecting cancer early also greatly reduces cancer’s financial impact: not only is the cost of treatment much less in cancer’s early stages, but people can also continue to work and support their families if they can access effective treatment in time, he added.