The month of October is dedicated for breast cancer awareness all over the world including Pakistan. On this occasion, the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) organized a session on breast cancer awareness at SIUT Suleman Dawood auditorium in collaboration with ConnectHear an organization that deals with specially abled individuals. The attendees of the session included deaf women, SIUT female staff members, doctors and paramedical staff. On this occasion, representatives from ConnectHear including sign language interpreters were present who conveyed the proceedings to the deaf audience. The focus of this awareness program was to demonstrate how to conduct self-breast examination and when they need to visit a doctor. In addition, screening protocols were explained and myths associated with the disease were clarified.
Highlighting the importance of awareness about breast cancer, the experts representing SIUT discussed that in Pakistan it has been estimated that each year more than 83,000 cases of breast cancer are reported and nearly 40,000 women die of this deadly disease. The experts pointed out that in our country one in nine women develop breast cancer at some stage of their lives. Even though breast cancer has a genetic predisposition it is pertinent to know that nearly 70% of newly diagnosed cases are not because of a genetic background. Therefore, it is mandatory for every woman above 40 years of age to make sure she has a screening test done. The recommendation is usually an annual ultrasound between 40 to 50 years and mammogram alternate years between 50 and 74 years. For patients with a family history of breast disease mammography should be done every year. Breast cancer patients were sporadically being treated at SIUT since 1989, but looking at the disease burden in the country and catering to service, SIUT started a dedicated breast unit providing comprehensive care to patients under one roof. The ambit of oncology at SIUT has increased tremendously and is the response to the needs that exist. At present in addition to the urological spectrum of diseases other areas included are breast, colorectal, hepatobiliary and head and neck cancers are being treated. Furthermore, blood cancers that are at early stages are also being treated at SIUT. The experts from SIUT who spoke on the occasion included Dr. Bushra Shirazi (Breast Surgery Oncology department), Dr. Afshan (Medical Oncologist) and Dr. Sana Saqib Shaikh (Radiologist) Muhammad Arsalan Khan (Transplant Surgeon), Dr. Ramna (General Surgery) whereas from ConnectHear Ms. Aliya Afzal and Ms. Minerva Muzaffar performed as sign language interpreters.