Health Expert Reveals 2 Cancers Spreading Rapidly in Pakistan

Head and neck cancers are rapidly spreading in Pakistan, particularly in Karachi, according to Dr. Khalid Bukhari, Medical Superintendent of Dr. Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital.

“Two to three head and neck cancer patients come to Civil Hospital every day,” Dr. Bukhari stated, noting that globally, someone dies from head and neck cancer every hour.

Dr. Bukhari shared this information during the inaugural session of an awareness campaign organized in collaboration with the Civil Hospital ENT Unit Two, Dow Medical College, and the Tumor Board Establishment Facilitation Forum (TEFF). The session was also addressed by former Head of the ENT Department, Prof. Shuja Farrukh; Head of ENT Unit 1, Prof. Zeba Ahmed; Head of ENT Unit 2, Prof. Sadaf Zia; and TEFF President, Dr. Nimrata Kumari. A large number of doctors and paramedical staff were in attendance.

Bukhari highlighted that many cancer patients only reach the hospital at a late stage. He emphasized the urgent need for awareness campaigns in smaller hospitals in the suburbs, including among general practitioners, to ensure patients are properly informed about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. By the time patients reach a large hospital, their condition often becomes untreatable.

Prof. Farrukh pointed out that head and neck cancers constitute 4-5% of all cancer cases worldwide, with 10-15% of these cases being diagnosed at their hospital. He expressed concern over late-stage patients’ habits such as chewing betel leaf, betelnut, gutka, or naswar. He praised TEFF’s awareness efforts and discussed treatment options like surgery, radiosurgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Dr. Sadaf highlighted risk factors including smoking, paan, chalaya, snuff, alcohol, and poor diet and hygiene. She advised seeking medical consultation if symptoms like difficulty breathing, swallowing, voice changes, or throat inflammation occur, stressing the need for comprehensive testing.

Prof. Zeba emphasized that early diagnosis of mouth cancer is crucial for saving lives. She highlighted the importance of patient and family awareness, noting that while stage three or four cancer might see some relief, it is often not curable. She stressed the responsibility of medical professionals in raising disease awareness and commended TEFF’s efforts. Zeba advocated for periodic disease awareness campaigns.

Dr. Nimrata Kumari, head of TEFF, stated that cancer awareness campaigns should be conducted regularly. TEFF conducts awareness campaigns for various cancers including pediatric, oncology, colorectal, breast, and gynecological cancers. Earlier, Dr. Khalid Bukhari cut the ribbon to inaugurate the awareness campaign, followed by a cake-cutting ceremony.

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