The total projected breast cancer in Pakistan incidence will increase from approximately 23.1 per cent in 2020 to 60.7 per cent in 2025
Pakistan has the highest prevalence of breast cancer among Asian countries, with an estimated 90,000 new cases emerging annually. One in every nine women in Pakistan have a life-time risk of having breast cancer and a 2019 study found that large increases in breast cancer are expected for women in the 50-64 years’ age bracket.
The findings indicate that the total projected breast cancer incidence will increase from approximately 23.1 per cent in 2020 to 60.7 per cent in 2025, experts said, adding that cases of breast cancer diagnosed in younger women, aged 30–34 years, will increase from 70.7 per cent to 130.6 per cent between 2020 and 2025 as compared to 2015. Globally, breast cancer accounts for one in every four cancer cases among women with an incidence and mortality rate second only to lung cancer, leading breast cancer surgeon Dr Shareen Lakhani said while speaking at an awareness session regarding breast cancer.
The awareness session was organised by a digital health platform dawai.com at their office in Karachi on Saturday and it was attended by breast cancer survivors as well as a large number of women from different segments of the society.
Dr Lakhani said while there are several types of breast cancer, they can largely be categorised into non-invasive (in situ or contained around point of origin) and invasive (spread to nearby body parts) types
“Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of breast cancer, experts have identified various risk factors that contribute to the likelihood of developing breast cancer, including age, reproductive health history, hereditary and lifestyle factors,” she said, adding that breast cancer treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, holistic medicine, and targeted therapy.
The most effective targeted treatment for breast cancer is Herceptin (trastuzuman) sold at Rs130,000 per injection. Pakistan has a policy of importing active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for life-saving drugs like Herceptin from India, but the government has urged local manufacturers to produce APIs, reducing dependence on India.
Importing APIs from countries other than India would cost Pakistan 1,000 per cent higher — making it even less affordable for the average patient according to Pharma Bureau Executive Director Ayesha Tammy Haq.
Lack of affordable treatments/anticancer medicine is just one factor contributing to the late detection of breast cancer. A 2018 research found that misconceptions about the disease and its symptoms, illiteracy and poor social status were major contributing factors for delayed presentation.
Detecting breast cancer late increases the chances it is at an advanced stage, reducing survival rates significantly. Early detection, on the other hand, can increase survival rates by an incredible 95 per cent.
According to experts at the Aga Khan Hospital, early detection is extremely valuable for effective breast cancer treatment and the diagnostics including self-exam – strongly recommended once a month, clinical breast exam – should be a basic part of women’s general check-ups starting from age 20 onwards, mammogram – a special kind of x-ray which can detect abnormal growth, ultrasound – to identify if breast lump is a cyst or a solid mass, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — should only be done on the recommendation of a breast specialist and Breast Biopsy – removal of some breast tissue to inspect for cancer.
Originally published at the news