Samina Alvi

ISLAMABAD, Sep 29 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi and First Lady Samina Alvi on Tuesday called for raising across the board awareness about breast cancer and its early diagnosis to overcome mortality rate in Pakistan, the highest in South Asia.

At an interactive session with senior journalists and anchorpersons here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, they stressed the need to sensitize public about the disease, particularly in October, marked internationally as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and also known as Pinktober.
President Dr Alvi said in Pakistan, every year at least 90,000 women suffer from breast cancer with 40,000 deaths, thus making 45 percent mortality rate compared to 2 to 4 percent in the world.

He said early detection of breast cancer ensured much lesser cost of medical treatment, but higher survival rate of the patient.

He said a strategy was under consideration to disseminate breast cancer awareness messages through cellular public messaging and establishing a telephone helpline for prompt information.

He stressed media’s role in effectively highlighting the campaign by giving air time to cancer patients, survivors and specialist medical experts to guide the public on the issue.
President Alvi said a man-inclusive approach in raising awareness about breast cancer was equally significant to discourage social taboos about the disease.

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He said the content related to breast cancer awareness would be included in the syllabus of lady health workers to ensure outreach of public service message to the target audience in far-flung areas, particularly women.

Samina Alvi urged the women to be vigilant about the initial symptoms and risk factors of breast cancer as thousands lost their lives every year due to unawareness.
She shared her upcoming extensive campaign scheduled to mark Pinktober, where she would be visiting Multan, Peshawar and other cities to raise awareness through seminars in collaboration with schools, colleges and NGOs.

Prof Dr Rukhsana Rasheed, having an experience of 35 years in breast cancer surgery, said women needed to be sensitized that breast cancer was “not a harbinger of death, but a curable disease” provided detected at early stages.

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She said breast cancer patients had around 95 percent survival rate if diagnosed at Stage 1, 90 percent at Stage 2 and 60-70 percent at Stage 3. Since Stages 3 and 4 are more common in Pakistan, therefore early detection is important, she stressed.

She advised all women over 40 to undergo screening and mammography and also perform regular self-palpation to locate any unfamiliar nodule or lump.

She suggested intake of balanced diet to minimize breast cancer risks and adopt healthy lifestyle.

Focal person National Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, Ministry of National Health Dr Ayesha Isani Majeed said the Federal Breast Cancer Screening Centre at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) was providing free of cost walk-in facility of mammography, besides oncology services under one roof.

During the interactive session, the president and first lady responded to the queries of journalists and also listened to their suggestions regarding the breast cancer awareness campaign through the platform of media.