LAHORE: A breast cancer awareness day was organised at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC), which was attended by and a large number of young students from different private and government colleges.
On the occasion, senior health experts spoke on a range of topics related to breast cancer awareness including common signs and symptoms, advancements in treatment, research and the importance of early detection of breast cancer.
Gulnaz Ayaz, a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 2014, shared her inspiring journey of fighting cancer and encouraged women to go to the right place for diagnosis and to take any unusual symptoms seriously.
Dr Sadia Abdullah, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, said that early detection is key to improving survival. “Take out 5 minutes for yourself and regularly perform breast self-examination. If you know your normal, then you will be able to detect any unusual signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Watch out for lumps, changes in size, shape, skin, nipple discharge, even lumps in the armpit area, and tenderness that is persistent. Don’t be shy about it, talk to family members and seek medical attention.
The condition may be benign or cancerous but it is important to get it checked to rule out cancer,” she said.
Dr Zeeshan Tariq, Consultant Medical Oncologist, emphasised that breast cancer is very common as every 8th woman in the world is expected to get it during their lifetime and in Pakistan, every 9th woman will get breast cancer during her lifetime. Early detection is important and his message was breast self-examination for women under 40 years of age and mammography for women above 40.
Dr Amina Khan, Consultant Surgical Oncologist, highlighted de-escalation of treatment due to advancement in science and medicine. She said that 70% of breast cancer surgeries being done at Shaukat Khanum Hospitals are without amputation or breast organ removal, which is equally effective and saves patients from psychological trauma.
Dr Usman Rashid, Senior Research Scientist, discussed important breakthroughs in breast cancer treatment including precision medicine, genetic testing and screening, targeted therapies, liquid biopsies, immunotherapies, and artificial intelligence and machine learning
In the end, Dr Aasim Yusuf, Chief Medical Officer of SKMCH&RC, thanked all the participating colleges and sponsors who made the event possible and encouraged students to take the life-saving message about early detection of breast cancer back to their communities.
He also said that two specialist cancer hospitals cannot manage the entire burden of disease in Pakistan and for this reason, the third Shaukat Khanum Hospital is being built in Karachi which is expected to open next year.