In 2020, at least 2.3 million women had breast cancer and 685 000 deaths globally (WHO, 2021). At the same time, in Pakistan, about 36,000 breast cancer cases were diagnosed and 13 000 women, unfortunately, died, leaving behind a trail of the painful story for the rest of the family members. Therefore, governments, hospitals, NGOs, and Societies must continue to create awareness and empower women to go for treatment, if any, at an affordable cost, accessible for the needy people in particular. It is applaudable that all mobile networks give an important message during October, which is a well-noticed contribution in spreading the Pink Oct message.
According to a WHO report, breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in developed and developing countries. “At present, there is a need for more research about the causes of increasing breast cancer, and however, early detection of the problem remains the foundation of its control.”
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), which began its journey in the USA in 1985, has become an annual international health campaign organised by major breast cancer charities every October. It aims to increase awareness of the disease and raise research/funds for its cause and prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. Later in 1993, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation was founded and established the Pink Ribbon as its symbol.
Pink October messages growing in Pakistan and various events were organised this month, including seminars, walks and pink illumination of landmark buildings. The real credit goes to NGOs, hospitals and private sectors, and even the Pakistan government is officially taking part on a big scale to promote awareness.
President Dr Arif Alvi underlined the need to raise awareness among women about breast cancer, its early detection and treatment to save precious lives. He regretted that due to lack of education and awareness, the breast cancer mortality rate in Pakistan was almost 50 per cent, which was quite alarming. The President rightly urged the female doctors should hold regular sessions in women colleges and universities regarding breast cancer to create awareness about the disease. He insisted on establishing a registry at central and provincial levels to collect data about breast cancer cases.
Pakistani businesses have also joined the annual October drive to Think Pink with increasingly innovative ways. Telenor has announced to set up Pakistan’s first breast cancer hospital and had started fundraising. We hope people respond with generosity and other organisations follow the path and set hospitals in each big city.
As the world observes October as the Breast Cancer Awareness month globally, Pakistani telecom company Ufone plays its part in drawing attention towards the urgency of early detection and treatment of this disease by lighting up ‘Ufone Tower’ in bright pink colours, which is a landmark building in the heart of Islamabad. This initiative was taken to create awareness of breast cancer and check the spread of the disease amongst women in Pakistan.
Early diagnosis dramatically improves the chances of a cure. Treatment typically involves surgery to remove the breast’s faulty tissue, and other expensive treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, may be recommended. We pray to Almighty Allah to save all women from this illness, but we should also highlight awareness the entire year, not limited to October.