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Friday, March 31, 2023
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EditorialBeating breast cancer

Beating breast cancer

Pink colour is in the air as October is marked as the breast cancer awareness month worldwide. Every year, several conferences are held and walks are arranged as part of a drive to raise more awareness surrounding the disease among the public, especially women. Most of the awareness hardly reaches the target audience, the women living in the rural areas, whereas conference, walks and reading literature are arranged in cities, big cities, to be precise. Despite these formal arrangements, breast cancer is not discussed as much as other types due to the stigma attached with it and that is why several women suffer from the disease and die annually. It was reported that out of the 90,000 women diagnosed with the disease in Pakistan last year, 40,000 succumbed to it. These precious lives could have been saved, had they been diagnosed on time and treated well. These figures show the need for overall awareness and the need to establish separate health care centres within or outside hospitals for the early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer patients. The public must know that breast cancer is curable if it is spotted at the early stages. Diagnosis of the cancer is in women’s own hands, and that is the game changer fact, which every woman must know.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has also taken notice of the increasing number of breast cancer cases and summoned health secretaries of all the provinces so that they can establish facilities of mammography, breast cancer treatment or tools for detection of the disease in government hospitals. The government must work towards creating these and treatment centres at a low cost so that those who cannot afford treatment are still able to get it.

A great initiative was launched in which instead of the dial tone, an awareness message was given with regards to breast cancer. Earlier, that was about the coronavirus. As coronavirus has been ebbing for weeks, the government addressed breast cancer awareness through the phone dial messages. Such initiatives will help remove the stigma attached to the disease and help women get help as soon as they feel like something is wrong. Women over the age of 40 and even younger ones must be taught how to check the signs of breast cancer so that they can be treated before it gets worse. Moreover, it should be instilled in women that if they feel or see any abnormality in their breasts, they must get it checked at the earliest and feel no shame whatsoever.

Pakistan has the highest breast cancer mortality rate and this is mainly due to the topic being a taboo and lack of government health facilities available as not everyone can afford treatment even if they do get diagnosed on time. Therefore, the government must establish health units, specifically targeting breast cancer, in urban and rural areas. Most women are also hesitant to get treatment for breast cancer from male doctors so female doctors must be present in these facilities for the ease of the patient. Progress will be made only when such measures are taken by the government as cancer treatment is extremely costly and Pakistan being a third world country houses people who barely have enough to survive.

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