LAHORE - Around 80 per cent women are at risk of infected by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer. As per WHO, Pakistan is amongst top 10 countries with highest number of Cervical Cancer deaths, killing 20 women every day.

Speaking at a workshop at a local hotel on Tuesday, Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology Department Fatima Jinnah Medical College Prof Maryam Malik said that cervical cancer was not hereditary but caused by a common and easily transmissible virus HPV.

“An initiative on World Cancer Day will be helpful in raising awareness amongst women. It will alert them about the risk factors and will play a significant role in reducing the burden of this disease in Pakistan,’ she added.

She also shed light on the prevalence of this disease amongst the women in society based on her clinical experience. ‘Women in Pakistan do not take this disease seriously which is the main cause of this high rate of mortality. It’s high time we need to take serious actions to protect our girls and women from this silent killer’, she stressed.

‘Women death toll is likely to increase by many folds as cervical cancer has never been considered deadly in Pakistan and women avoid screening and vaccination owing to lack of awareness. Vaccination against cervical cancer is the primary means of prevention while getting the vaccines as early as possible will protect them in future,’ said Dr Naeem Zafar Associate Professor and Vice president Pakistan Pediatric Association. He said that a major setback was that physicians/ pediatricians were not consulted for the prevention of this cancer.

‘Cervical cancer does not show any sign or symptoms in the beginning and by the time it is diagnosed it is already very late. Prevention is always better than cure while the means of protection against cervical cancer are available in the market in the form of safe and efficacious vaccines. Vaccination can reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by 94% and the screening should be continued even after vaccination. Cervical cancer has the highest incidence in women aged 30–35 years and greater than 60% of cases affecting women under 50 years old’, he said.

‘It is unfortunate that countries like Pakistan don’t have exact estimates of the prevalence of cervical cancer and screening for HPV infection is not a common practice in Pakistan due to lack of awareness amongst people,’ said leading stylist and women rights activists Musarat Misbah. She said that it was unfortunate that women spend huge sum of money on grooming and shopping but they don’t bother to take preventive measures for their long term wellbeing.

Durr-e-Shahwar, Member APWA Punjab, said that this entirely preventable disease was the second largest cancer killer of women in low and middle-income countries, with most women dying in the prime of life, when they were supporting their husbands and bringing up children. ‘It is advisable to get daughters vaccinated after the age of nine as it becomes very difficult to cure cancer once it reaches advanced stages,’ she added.

World Health Organization (WHO) projected that by 2030, almost half a million women will die of cervical cancer, with over 98% of these deaths expected to occur in low and middle-income countries such as Pakistan. Cervical cancer kills an estimated 275,000 women every year and 500,000 new cases are reported worldwide.

Many countries including Malaysia, Mexico and Rwanda have played leadership roles in the fight against Cervical Cancer.

Moreover, Global Forum on Cervical Cancer Prevention representing world’s health experts and medical fraternity suggest a roadmap to ensure that all women and girls have equitable access to HPV vaccines, screening and treatment.

Cancer Surgery Conference today

OUR STAFF REPORTER

LAHORE

International Cancer Surgery Conference will start at King Edward Medical University on Wednesday (today). Before the inaugural ceremony, a walk and seminar will be arranged to mark World Cancer Day.

In the pre event, successful laparoscopic gastrectomy surgery performed by Chairman Department of Surgery KEMU and founding President Surgical Oncology Society Pakistan (SOS-PK) Prof Muhammad Arshad Cheema and Prof Khursheed Akhtar at West Operation Theatre of Mayo Hospital Lahore was telecasted live to the Auditorium.