ISLAMABAD - Health experts suggest quitting tobacco use in any form can prevent 30 per cent cancer as smoking is a leading cause of cancer in countries like Pakistan and only smoking causes an estimated 90 per cent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 per cent of all lung cancer deaths in women.

The experts were speaking at a cancer awareness seminar organized by the Shifa International Hospital to mark the World Cancer Day on Saturday. Renowned scientist and Member Science and Technology, Planning Commission of Pakistan and former Chairman National Engineering & Scientific Commission (NESCOM) Dr. Sammar Mubarakmand was the chief guest at the event

Dr. Samar Mubarakmand while addressing the gathering said that annually 200,000 patients are diagnosed with cancer in Pakistan and environmental pollution, contaminated water and smoking has a major role in it. He said that burning of tyres, tobacco, coal, shopping bags and brick kilns release carcinogen that is extremely dangerous and causes cancer.

He said that the gas produced from Tharparkar’s underground coal gasification project is pollution free and its blue colour flame does not cause emissions of hazardous chemicals like carcinogens, as they remain underground.

He further said that 80 per cent population lives in rural areas and to reach out to them, blood-testing laboratories need to be established at district and tehsil levels for early detection in rural areas.

While addressing the seminar, eminent Oncologists at Shifa International Hospital said that cancer is more than 90 per cent curable disease if it is diagnosed in time.

They were of the view that cancer is a dreaded disease but it has emerged more like a chronic disease than a fatal disorder.

While giving their presentations, the experts informed that cancer was rapidly spreading in developing countries like Pakistan. They said that cancer would become a common cause of death by 2020. “About 41.21 per cent of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites at some time during their lifetime,” Consultant Medical Oncologist, SIH, Dr. Kamran Rasheed said.

Dr. Afridi said that more than 10 million people in the world become victim of this disease every year. People over 30 years of age are more vulnerable to this disease. It is estimated that around 0.2 million people become cancer patient in Pakistan every year.

Thickening or lump in the body particularly in breast among women, an injury that is not healing, unusual bleeding or discharge, indigestion or trouble swallowing, irritating cough and hoarseness, weight loss, hunger loss and fever are some of the symptoms of cancer and one must go for cancer tests and biopsy with the suggestion of cancer expert if he or she feels development of any of such symptoms, he advised.

Another SIH Consultant Medical Specialist, Dr. Anwar Ahmed, while giving his presentation on cancer, its causes, treatment, symptoms and prevalence observed smoking and use of tobacco in other forms including pan, gutka, chaliya, etc, are the main causes of many types of cancers. Only smoking causes an estimated 90 per cent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 per cent of all lung cancer deaths in women. Quit use of tobacco and you can control 30 percent cancer spread, he said.

Consultant Surgeon Dr. Badarus Salam said cancer is an uncontrolled division of cells resulting in an abnormal growth. He said that it could be cured if detected and treated in time. He said that tobacco, smoking, alcohol, inactive lifestyle, unhealthy diet, obesity, infections and sun exposure are some of the causes of cancer that can be managed to avoid cancer.

He stressed on the need of diagnosing cancer at early stages particularly at the preliminary stage saying, “Early detection means less invasive treatment, less trauma, less pain, less cost. So it pays to be vigilant.” He informed that a new study has found that many malignancies could be prevented by exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. Dr. Badar suggested getting an annual cancer screening and living an active and simple life to not get sick and become cancer patient. The participants of best story award and art competition were given prizes and certificates by the hospital. Shifa had launched a campaign for cancer awareness on January 22. A number of activities including hiking, torch-bearing walk, cancer awareness walk, soccer matches, best story award competition among print media journalist for cancer awareness and art completion among students of various schools were organized to create cancer awareness in the masses.