Early diagnosis crucial to save 35,000 breast cancer deaths in Pakistan every year: President

ISLAMABAD, Oct 19 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday said more than 100,000 women in Pakistan were diagnosed with breast cancer every year, of which 35,000 could not survive due to detection of the disease at late stages.

He said the diagnosis of breast cancer at stage 1 had higher survival rates compared to stages 3 and 4 of the disease.

In an interactive session with journalists of print and electronic media here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the president along with his wife Samina Alvi stressed breaking social taboos about breast cancer and the importance of the media’s role in sensitizing the general public.

President Alvi emphasized a preventive rather than curative approach as the government lacked ample resources to bear the unaffordable costs of medical treatment including the scanning and oncology procedures of breast cancer.

He called for educating women on how to conduct monthly self-examinations to locate an abnormal nodule and not to hesitate to seek urgent medical help.

President Alvi recalled that last year, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on his suggestion relayed 120 million call-waiting messages about breast cancer.

He urged the journalists to join the cause of fighting breast cancer by highlighting the topic in their write-ups and television programmes.

The president mentioned that he and Samina Alvi for the last five years had been raising consistent awareness campaigns on breast cancer from the platform of the Presidency.

He stressed continuity in policies on health and education despite changes in governments to ensure a healthy and balanced society. He also emphasized focusing on health courses of short duration to produce a larger number of healthcare workers to cater to the needs of the population.

Begum Samina Alvi lauded the media for effectively highlighting the subject in their television programmes and newspapers. She said the campaign should not be restricted to the month of October and be continued throughout the year.

She also urged sensitization of the male members of the family to enable them realize the sufferings attached to the disease and support women to get proper medical care.

The session also highlighted the importance of awareness about other health issues including mental health.

President Alvi said as per research, 24 percent of the country’s population suffered from mental health issues whereas there were only 550 psychiatrists and 1,200 psychologists available for them.

The President and Begum Alvi also responded to the questions of the journalists pertaining to the national-level efforts related to breast cancer and mental health.

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