Dr Rufina Soomro, the professor of Surgery at the Liaquat National Hospital (LNH), delivered a lecture at the 68th Public Awareness Seminar on “Breast Cancer Awareness” held at the Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), the University of Karachi here on Wednesday.

Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research and Sindh Innovation Research Educational Network (SIREN) jointly organized the seminar.

The lady professor said that many people were misguided by various kinds of alternate unscientific methods but the fact was that delay in treatment could lead to advance in cancer stage causing a challenge to treat the disease.

She rejected the myth that alternate therapies were effective without surgery and chemo, as cancer treatment was usually worse than the disease.

Talking about risk factors, she said, “Being a woman is the main risk factor for breast cancer, which is 100 times more common in women than men.”

Risk for breast cancer increases with age, as around 77 per cent of women with breast cancer are over age of 50 at time of diagnosis, she mentioned.

A person, having one first-degree relative with breast cancer like mother, sister, daughter, has doubles risk for breast cancer, she said, adding that while 80 per cent of women with breast cancer have no family history.

She said that risk factors of breast cancer included women over the age of 40 years, early menarche, late menopause, late first child, alcohol use, radiation, geographic location, diet, obesity, cancer in other breast, family history, and etc.

Following the rising incidents of breast cancer in Pakistan, Prof. Soomro stressed the need for breast self-examination, and said that a simple check was quite imperative for every Pakistani woman. A simple check includes unusual increase in the size of one breast, one breast lying lower than the other, puckering or dimpling of the skin, a rash on or around the nipple, recent turning in of the nipple, fluid or blood coming from the nipple, orange peel appearance, and enlarge axillary lymph nodes.

Good breast health is a three steps approach including self-examination, clinical examination and mammography, she mentioned. The lady professor urged Pakistani women to stop smoking, limit alcohol intake, eat well-balanced nutritious diet, and do physical exercise.

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Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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