By Nabi Jan Orakzai

PESHAWAR, 27 December: Breast cancer kills about 40,000 women in Pakistan every year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says previously only the older women complained about the disease but now it is also spreading quickly among the younger women in developing countries, including Pakistan.

TNN correspondent has conducted a detailed discussion with Doctor Abid Jamil, a professor of cancer medicine at Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar about the causes and preventive measures for breast cancer.

TNN: What are the main symptoms of breast cancer?

Dr Abid Jamil: Breast cancer affects every tenth woman. Its ratio is alarmingly high in Pakistan. The main symptom is a lump in the breast, but unfortunately most women in Pakistan hide their condition until the lump grows in size and becomes more threating. We have also seen that many doctors give simple anti-biotics to patients with complaint of pain in the breast and don’t ask them to conduct proper tests due to which the lump spreads in the body by the time the patient arrives for cancer check-up.

TNN: How a woman will know about the presence of the disease inside her body?

Dr Abid Jamil: A patient will feel a bit of pain in her affected breast and she will also feel the lump. It gets worse when the lump grows in size and the skin also gets darker. The next stage is even more dangerous when lumps also appear inside the underarm. We want the patient to visit us in the early stages when she even feels little pain in the breast no matter a lump appears or not. At the early stage we conduct an ultrasound test which costs around Rs300-500 or magnetic response imaging (MRI) scan which costs Rs2,000. The disease is curable if it is diagnose in time.

TNN: What is treatment procedure for breast cancer? Is it too costly?

Dr Abid Jamil: The disease can be treated with injections, Laser therapy and surgery. There is no need of removing the organ in case of early diagnosis and the treatment process completes in five months. If the patient comes to us in third or fourth stage of breast cancer then the treatment becomes very expensive which may cost over Rs1.5 million. The treatment mainly depends on the stage of the disease. The treatment process takes from five months to one year and costs ranges from minimum Rs40,000 to Rs1.5 million.

TNN: How our mothers and sisters can prevent them from this dangerous disease?

Dr Abid Jamil: There are no precautionary measures as such to avoid the disease. However, its early detection can make the treatment process easier. Women must breastfeed their children for two years which can be helpful in preventing this disease.