Islamabad: Pakistan could face an increase in the number of breast cancer patients in the future because of the unhealthy lifestyle led by most women as well as late diagnosis of the disease, a US health expert has said.
Jo Anne Zujewski, head of the Breast Cancer Therapeutics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the US, said a very large portion of the Pakistani population comprises youth.
Zujewski said efforts to reduce the incidence of the fatal disease in the country were hindered by a number of factors.
Pakistan has the highest mortality rate for breast cancer in the world. This was because of the unhealthy lifestyle followed by most women as well as the late diagnosis of the disease, since the majority of women seek treatment when cancer is in its last stages.
"On an average, 90,000 cases of breast cancer are reported annually in Pakistan, of which approximately 50,000 survive," she was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.
However, all breast cancer statistics in Pakistan were an estimation because of the lack of systematic registration.
The main causes of its spread were obesity, lack of breast-feeding, poor overall lifestyle and environmental radiation.
"Cure is possible if the cancer is diagnosed in its early stages and the woman starts getting treatment immediately," she said.
However, the treatment cost was too high in Pakistan.
"The treatment cost gets higher as the cancer spreads and becomes more complicated; so it is better to get treatment in the early stages," she said.
Considering the level of poverty and the lack of health facilities in the country, she opined that vans equipped with mammography facilities should be used for screening in rural areas.
"Every hospital in Pakistan must have a mobile van that can be used to provide such facilities on a door-to-door basis, especially to women who cannot access hospitals or bear the expenses of screening," she advised.