80 percent of lung cancer linked to smoking: moot told

KARACHI: Two percent of cancer patients were driven into bankruptcy by their illness and its treatment and only way to cost effective healthcare is to say no to tobacco, eat vegetables and fruits, exercise regularly and sleep properly.

These views expressed by speakers while addressing a seminar organized by Ziauddin University on topic ‘Not beyond us’ to mark the World Cancer Day. The seminar focused on the barriers in cancer cure and the importance of screening and early diagnosis.

Consultant Medical Oncologist at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital Dr Najeeb Niamat Ullah elaborated the financial impact of cancer. He analyzed the relationship between health care expenditure and life expectancy. He quoted a study that stated that two percent of cancer patients were driven into bankruptcy by their illness and its treatment. “The only way to cost effective health care is to say no to tobacco, eat vegetables and fruits, exercise regularly and sleep properly,” he said.

Vice Chancellor, Ziauddin University, Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim praised the speakers for their valuable contribution to the field of medicine and urged the teachers, students, scholars, and media to play their positive role in raising awareness and educate people about the deadly disease. He also stressed on the individual efforts to get rid of this fatal disease.

Director Oncology, Dr. Ziauddin Hospital, Prof Dr Tariq Siddiqui, discussed the evolution of chemotherapy, types of prescriptions and how to make the right choices. Presenting the history of chemotherapy, he said: “Chemotherapy is hijacked by infectious diseases, when antibiotics were used in treating infections.”

He advised cancer patients to have good quality tests, go to places where there are teams for treatment, keep their nutrients up and ask questions that concern them.

Head of Oncology Department, Liaquat National Hospital, Dr Naila Zahid, stressed on screening and early diagnosis of cancer. She said every fifth person is at risk of developing cancer if they live for seven decades. She discussed the three most common cancers worldwide and the screening tests available for them. She talked about the hazards of smoking and passive smoking and said, “80 percent of lung cancer is associated with smoking.”

Dr Qurrat-ul-Ain Badar classified the barriers in patient related, doctor related and system related factors, and argued that lack of routine checkups, delay in diagnosis, financial crises, alternative medication and lack of qualified specialists are major obstacles to diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Presenting the overview of specialised cancer hospitals in the country, she said: “There are just 21 cancer hospitals in 12 cities of Pakistan and many patients don’t know they exist.”

Prof Dr Abbas Zafar highlighted the awareness and prevention of oral cancer. He stated that oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world but it is rising rapidly in southern areas of Pakistan, particularly in Karachi. “Betelnut, paan, gutka, maava, pan puri, smoking and alcohol are the most important factors in the rise of oral cancer,” he said.

He appreciated the efforts of neighbouring country and said Karnataka had become the 26th state in India to ban the sale of gutka.

The event was attended by a large number of participants including medical students, doctors, paramedical staff from different universities and hospitals, NGOs, and social activist.

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