ISLAMABAD: An awareness seminar on World Cancer Day was recently held at Shifa International Hospital. The Federal Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir was invited as Chief Guest in the event. Consultant medical oncologist Dr Ayaz Mir and Consultant radiation oncologist Dr M. Furrukh also spoke to the participants.
While addressing the audience, Zartaj Gul Wazir said that around 9.6 million people die each year worldwide from cancer, more deaths than those caused by HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined. If adequate steps were not taken to control the disease the annual deaths would rise to 13 million by 2030, she stressed.
Zartaj further said, “Changes in weather patterns as a result of climate change were affecting global environment and behaviors which altered the magnitude and pattern of cancer risks.”
Gul Wazir urged that smog over cities, polluted drinking water, chemicals in food, use of plastic bags and poor air quality were just a few exposures in the environment that harm health. She said, “If steps are not taken to control the disease annual deaths in the world would increase to 13m by 2030 from the current 9.6m.”
“Federal Ministry of Climate Change is positively contributing to control environmental hazards, water resources, health and eventually nurturing a clean and green Pakistan,” Gul said.
Dr M. Furrukh said more than one-third of cancer cases can be prevented. He said, “Another one-third can be cured if detected early and treated properly. By implementing resource-appropriate strategies on prevention, early detection and treatment, we can save up to 3.7 million lives every year.”
Dr Farrukh said there were seven warning signs of cancer: changes in bathroom habits, a sore that does not heal, unusual discharge and bleeding from natural orifices, thickness or lumps in the breast or other places, indigestion and difficulty in swallowing, obvious changes in moles or warts and nagging cough and hoarseness.
Dr Ayaz Mir said taking simple actions such as stopping smoking, avoiding use of alcohol, exercising regularly, maintaining vitamins, especially D level, in the body and reducing the intake of white sugar, junk food, processed and red meat can extend a healthy life and would prove to be the first-line of defence against cancer and other associated non-communicable diseases.
Dr Mir further said that Pakistan was the seventh most populous country with estimated cancer incidence of 148,041 new cases, 101,113 cancer-related deaths (48,449 men and 52,664 women) in 2012, and a prevalence of 344,243 living cancer patients.