Surge in breast cancer – 10 Apr 2023

Pakistan has high rates of breast cancer due to poor healthcare facilitation, low female literacy and conservativeness

Each year, approximately 40,000 Pakistani women die due to breast cancer with an addition of 90,000 new cases annually. A delegation from the UK that travelled through 11 countries reached Lahore General Hospital earlier this week where it raised concern over the growing threat of breast cancer. The delegation is fundraising for breast cancer patients and differently-abled children in Pakistan to provide them with modern facilities and acquaint local doctors with modern research and treatment.

The high incidence of breast cancer in Pakistan is a direct consequence of poor healthcare facilitation, low literacy among women and conservative ideas. Running digital campaigns once a year is clearly not effective enough because breast cancer remains a taboo topic. It is commonly referred to as ‘cancer for women’ to avoid shame and stigma. Even in cities, women are unable to seek adequate medical support. Most lack awareness about self-exams and the significance of finding a lump in their breast. Naturally, women in impoverished, rural and far-flung areas are farther behind in realising the existence and threat of the disease. They are also faced with other barriers, including monetary support, transportation, etc. This indicates the need to provide women with better healthcare support and improve outreach.

Perhaps, the most effective way to conduct breast cancer awareness campaigns is in female-centric spaces such as educational institutes, beauty salons, etc. NGOs and charitable organisations geared towards cancer support should focus on raising awareness among women in rural and remote areas who lack access to digital media. Pakistani women should not have to lose their lives to a disease that is highly treatable. Early diagnosis and proper care not only cure the disease but allow patients to live a long and healthy life.

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