CHI (PPI) - No government-run teaching hospital in rural Sindh has got the facility of mammography, to help detect breast cancer, which is rising with an alarming rate in women of both rural and urban areas. A few government teaching hospitals in Karachi have got the mammography facility and rural patients have to incur heavy expenses to travel and stay in Karachi to get their disease detected and treated.
Various medical studies have indicated that cases of breast cancer among women and young girls in the country are on the rise and if this issue were not tackled on war-footing basis, the situation might go out of control in near future.
Special Secretary Public Health, Government of Sindh, Dr Captain (retd) Abdul Majid, when contacted said the government is trying its best to provide healthcare facilities to citizens in both rural and urban areas. He said breast cancer is a serious issue and Sindh health department is working on a plan to train medical staff in this regard so that free of cost mammography facilities could be provided in all teaching hospitals of the Sindh.
He said that the machines used in mammography tests to detect breast cancer are costly and the government is trying to buy more machines for this purpose. He said presently the facility of mammography is present in a few government-run hospitals of Karachi, while efforts are being made to provide this facility to all other teaching hospitals.
It may be noted that major teaching hospitals of rural Sindh are affiliated to Liaquat Medical College Jamshro, Peoples Medical College Nawabshah, Ghulam Muhammad Mahar Medical College Sukkur and Chandka Medical College Larkana. These hospitals badly need mammography testing facilities to detect breast cancer. In past the government had announced to upgrade all district headquarters hospitals as teaching hospitals; however, like other numerous decisions and announcements the upgrading of district hospitals still awaits implementation. Women, almost 50percent of total population could be greatly facilitated if mammography facilities provided in the district headquarters hospitals.
Dr Shaista Masood Khan, consultant surgeon at Aga Khan Hospital Karachi told PPI that 35 percent of the all cancer cases registered in the country belong to breast cancer. She said not all breast cancer cases are registered with hospitals, and the actual number of such cases might be much higher.
The reasons behind breast cancer could be genetic and hereditary in nature. Late marriages of girls may also cause breast cancer. She said there in no dedicated medical centre is the country to help controlling the increasing cases of breast cancer or where people from poor families could also be examined and treated.
She said that WHO has informed all developing countries to tackle with breast cancer seriously, otherwise there are strong chances that prevalence of breast cancer could be doubled by 2020.
Breast consultant surgeon at Liaquat National Hospital Dr Rufina Soomro informed that exact reasons behind the rising rate of breast cancer could not be ascertained as yet; however, women having history of this disease in their family are highly vulnerable to it.
The women not breast-feeding their babies could also at high risk.
She emphasised that every women should go for self-examination of breasts in order to detect any abnormal change in them. She said if any change, growth and lump is found in breasts, a qualified medical practitioner should be contacted without further loss of time. The government should establish Mammography centres in hospitals, especially in rural areas, so that women could be checked by
qualified doctors in case of any problem Many liberate and poor women do not know about the breast cancer, so a robust awareness compliant should be launched through mass media, Dr Rufina suggested.
She said that some 500 breast cancer cases are registered in Liaquat National Hospital every year. The majority of patients visit the hospital when the disease is in final and critical condition and cancer already spread in whole body. She said as per reports every year 40, 000 women die of breast cancer all over the world Dr Rufina said mortality rate of breast cancer is higher in Pakistan as compared to other parts of the world, because in out country there are no proper diagnostic and cure centers of breast cancer.
She said though the facility of mammography is available in a few big hospitals of the country, but the vast rural area lacked this facility. She urged the government to open free breast clinics in all major towns of the country in order to facilitate the poor women.
In-charge Cancer Ward of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Dr Ahmed Usman said a through and sophisticated research on increasing rate of breast cancer was yet to be done in Pakistan. He said the JPMC register some 200-cancer cases every week, including some 40 breast cancer cases. He said all the cancer patients are treated free of cost at the JPMC.
Dr Usman showed deep concern over the rapid increase in breast cancer among the young women. He said that awareness should be created among the people regarding this disease so that to control it.
In-charge Cancer Ward at the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) Dr Noor Soomro said that 36 percent of breast cancer cases are found in young girls and women, which is a matter of great concern. He said that majority of women suffering from this disease try to hide their ailment till it is too late.
He mentioned that the CHK is the first hospital of the province which is working under public-private partnership, where medicine and other facilities are provided free of cost to the patients, in collaboration with Pakistan Cancer Patients Welfare Society.
He said that about 800 to 900 cancer patients visit the CHK annually, besides 13000-16000 follow-up cases. He said ratio of breast cancer in males is one percent as compared to 42pc prevalence in females.
Late marriage, early periods and other genetic reasons could be behind this disease, he said adding; however, patients should consult medical expert as soon as possible.
Senior family physician at Sindh Government Services Hospital, Dr Akhtiar A Sheikh said that breast cancer is the second most dangerous disease among the women and thousands of women die annually of it in Pakistan.
He said if diagnosed in early stages, the breast cancer could be easily treated. He said women should immediately consult a doctor in case of any knot or lump or change of color and texture on either breast.
President Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Dr Aziz Khan Tank showed deep concern over the increase in reported cases of breast cancer in Pakistan. He said that thousands of mothers in Pakistan dont breast-feed their children. He said it is a proved fact that breast-feeding mothers are less prone to the breast cancer.
He told that women and girls should immediately consult physician in case of any symptoms of the disease. He was with the view that there is less awareness among the people regarding the breast cancer.
He said treatment of breast cancer is very costly in Pakistan. He said about 50percent population of Pakistan live beneath the poverty line. He said families of millions of poor women suffering from breast cancer could not afford treatment in costly private hospitals.
Dr Tank said the PMA has repeatedly demanded the government to provide the facility of mammography in all the district hospitals of the country to facilitate the poor masses.