Breast cancer awareness

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The whole World marked October as ‘PINKtober’, which is a global campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer, and according to WHO, it claims around 458,000 lives every year. However, the death rate is higher in developing and underdeveloped states including Pakistan. There are several reasons which led to the higher death rate, such as innumerable problems in accessing health services that help in early detection of cancer and unawareness of self-testing. Moreover, taboos associated with regular screening and breast examination also lead to a delayed diagnosis which contributes to the high death toll. Talking about Pakistan, one woman in nine suffered from breast cancer and the country is facing a high mortality rate around 40,000 died of it every single year. The current government of Pakistan has taken a few initiatives to increase awareness about breast cancer. President Arif Alvi said, “removing taboos about breast cancer through strong awareness campaigns would help the women not to shy away from seeking urgent medical help”, Early detection could save the lives of thousands of women in Pakistan. He also called on all elected members of parliament to work towards raising awareness of this health issue in their areas in collaboration with media persons and health bodies. The government of Pakistan has also initiated an awareness campaign in partnership with private cellular networks. However, constant and holistic efforts are required to curb the existing rate, for every woman, knowledge of early symptoms is essential for timely treatment. On the other hand, screening tests i.e., Mammography procedures are often costly and, given the poor service delivery in public-sector hospitals and highly expensive for millions of households in the country. Therefore, awareness campaigns can only be effective if a suitable investment is also made in basic healthcare infrastructure and primary breast cancer screening facilities.  Since women are more prone to breast cancer, the societal roles and the attitudes of men in their own families play a significant part in their being able to seek help and receive treatment. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is about raising awareness, raising funds, sharing information. But it’s not just about October. It’s about reminding us that funds must be raised, precautions must be taken and the battle will continue being fought each and every day until there is a cure.

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