Blood cancer in Pakistan is ranked as the 5th most prevalent cancer in the country, dividing its numbers rapidly.
In 1845, the first case of leukemia in an adult patient was reported. Blood cancer in Pakistan is ranked as the 5th most prevalent cancer in the country, dividing its numbers rapidly.
What is Leukemia?
Leukemia – blood cancer, is an abnormal growth of blood cells. It is the combination of two Greek words, “Leukos”-white and “Haima”-blood. This abnormal growth happens in the bone marrow cells of humans, where the formation of blood cells occurs.
Blood cancer in Pakistan
Various techniques such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy are working on reducing the mortality rate, but this is still a highly prevalent disease in Pakistan (in fact all over the world).
In Pakistan, people are not very concerned about their nutrient uptake level, and a poor nutrient diet is the main reason for causing the abnormality.
Pakistan is ranked at 130th number on the basis of the death rate of leukemia. Leukemia is more prevalent in males (60%) as compared to females (40%) in Pakistan. A total of 15,980 cases were observed in the last 5 years. According to an estimation, by 2030, the rise in leukemia throughout the world will be 24 million cases per year.
A reliable surveillance system is direly needed in Pakistan for blood-cancer incidence and mortality, but there are very few cancer registries in Pakistan (only 2 to 3), despite that it is a densely populated country with more than 225 million inhabitants.
The scientific basis behind Leukemia
As we all know, there are three types of normal blood cells; red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. In the case of leukemia, one of these cells undergoes mutation in DNA (mostly in white blood cells) and begins to divide abnormally. As a result, the body cannot form blood clots and will not fight against infections when needed.
There are two types of leukemia
- Acute leukemia – which divide quickly, most common in children
- Chronic leukemia – which worsens slowly, common in adults.
Symptoms of Leukemia
Symptoms include fatigue, fever, weight loss, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, bleeding, and shortness of breath. Anyone can develop blood cancer, but its prevalence is high among previous cancer patients, smoking people, and those who are facing radiation or industrial chemicals.
Leukemia treatment in Pakistan
Leukemia can be diagnosed through imaging and biopsies. In Pakistan, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are commonly used as treatment, in which chemicals and radiation enter the patient’s body. However, the above-mentioned methods used to treat leukemia also have serious side effects on the patient’s body.
Advanced treatments in use in the world
Advancements in research areas for disease, immunotherapy, and novel CAR T-cell therapy can also be used due to their fewer side effects as compared to previous ones.
CAR T cells are chimeric antigen receptor T cells also known as living drugs. In this treatment, the patient’s T cells are taken and modified to kill cancer cells in the body. This therapy is practiced in Singapore, China, and the UK since 2021 due to its less time requirement, and one dose infusion.
In Pakistan, immunotherapy and especially CAR T cell therapy can also be introduced to replace transplantation, through proper advertisements and seminars by promoting awareness of cancer’s warning signals and less painful treatment available for leukemia and can be practiced by lowering its cost.