islamabad  - Health experts at the Grand Breast Cancer awareness seminar organised at the Nuclear Medicine Oncology & Radiotherapy Institute (NORI) on Saturday spoke at length about the importance of creating awareness of the disease in Pakistan.  

Highlighting that breast cancer constitutes about 33 per cent of all female cancers in the country, Head Oncology NORI Dr Humera Mahmood said that it was a sad reality that more than 70 per cent of patients reached the advanced stage of disease due to lack of awareness, poverty and social and cultural taboos.  

She stressed that female health workers should be trained in breast self-examination so they can educate other women too. On a grassroots level, she advised, the curriculum of matric and FSc and undergraduate medical training should include basic oncology.   

In a detailed presentation, Oncologist and Nutritionist, Dr Rafia Toor, addressed myths and misconceptions about food intake during cancer treatment and shared important articles about cancer preventive foods.  

Dr Sana Mehmood, Oncologist, NORI highlighted the psychosocial issues faced by breast cancer survivors at the time of diagnosis, during treatment and at the follow up stage. 

PAEC has 18 cancer hospitals being run across the country and NORI is one of them. One hospital in Gilgit and another in Mardan is under construction. Dr Humera highlighted that data of cancer patients from all the 18 cancer hospitals is being pooled at PAEC Headquarter. Director NORI Dr. Mohammad Faheem briefed the participants about the services provided at NORI and 17 other Atomic Energy Cancer Hospitals.  

Annually, over 850,000 patients (nearly 80% of the cancer patient population in the country) get diagnostic and treatment facilities at these public sector hospitals being run by PAEC. This is a massive contribution to the health sector of Pakistan.  

Guest of Honor, Mrs. Asma Hyder Member Social Sector Planning Commission of Pakistan shared her thoughts about Pakistani women responsibilities and their health issues.   

She also said that the presence of state of the art equipment in an institution is not a guarantee of successful treatment of patients, unless they are used by skilled and well-trained staff.  

She appreciated the fact that all the patients irrespective of stage of the disease, financial status and age are being served by NORI. In her concluding remarks, she promised to provide continuous support to NORI in future development.