February 26, 2015 (PPI-OT)
Following is the text of press release issued by Aga Khan University (AKU)
As the 18th National Health Sciences Research Symposium on cancer drew to a close today at the Aga Khan University, renowned speakers from Pakistan and abroad presented further valuable insight into the disease. The two-day symposium was titled, “Cancer: Promoting comprehensive care”.
Experts pointed out that cancer is the leading cause of death globally, with more than 8 million deaths in 2012 alone. Yet the World Health Organisation has warned that the number of new cases will rise by approximately 70 percent in the next two decade, with almost two-thirds of annual cases in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.
Research is the key to prevention and treatment strategies said Dr Ikram Burney, Consultant Oncologist at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Oman. He compared hospitals active in research with those that are inactive and quoting a study of 165 hospitals, concluded that 80 study hospitals gave better care to their patients. Patients benefit from receiving treatment in hospitals that are active in research with better processes of care, training, education and specialisation.
An essential part of cancer treatment is managing pain. Dr Gauhar Afshan, Professor and Chairman, Department of Anaesthesiology, AKU said that 5.5 million people worldwide receive no treatment or minimal assistance for their cancer pain even though, “pain is among the most common and feared symptoms in cancer patients”.
Outlining the barriers to managing cancer pain in developing countries, she said that pain is generally regarded as part of cancer treatment and patients are encouraged to live with it rather than to actively take steps to manage it.
Focusing on the oft-neglected topic of nutrition, Bushra Mushtaq, Senior Dietician, AKUH stressed on the importance of a suitable diet for cancer patients, which should be planned and monitored by a qualified dietician. Quoting a study, she said that once or twice a month consultation with a dietitian helped cancer patients improve their protein intake by around 239kcal per day as compared to a group that was not counselled.
Experts also discussed different cancers and progress in treatment. Lung cancer is not only the leading form of cancer globally, it also has the highest mortality rate with 90 per cent of the patients dying of it. Taking this further Dr Ghulam Haider of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi, reiterated the need for early detection – there is 49 per cent chance of survival at when the disease is diagnosed at an early stage falling to a very low 0-3 per cent at the advanced stage.
Dr Ather Kazmi of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Lahore, outlined several different strategies and surgical practices to treat gastric cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death. “More than half the cases occur in East Asia, where Korea and Japan show the highest incidences,” he added. He also explored the role of radiation in cancer survival and whether it improves the outcome of localised resectable gastric cancer.
Dr Farhat Abbas, Dean, Medical College, AKU spoke about prostate and bladder cancer. Despite being a common form of cancer in Pakistan (8.9 per cent in both men and women), patients of urinary bladder cancer present their cases at an advanced stage, he said. Dr Abbas also presented highlights from AKU’s research in the area, concluding: “Molecular diagnosis of prostate and urinary bladder cancer is emerging as a promising tool with many potential benefits.”
Panelists also discussed head and neck cancer with a focus on salivary gland tumors, oral cavity cancers and larynx/hypopharynx cancer. They reiterated the call for health-services infrastructure and human resources to help combat this disease. “The silent nature of this form of the disease, misinterpretation of symptoms and lack of awareness about risk factors contribute to the delay on patient’s part,” added Dr Shabbir Akhtar, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, AKU who moderated the session.
The symposium also conducted parallel sessions on colorectal malignancies, genito-urinary and gynaecological malignancies and neuro-oncology. Other speakers included, Dr Keithe Cash, Dr Aasim Ahmed, Latif Sheikh, Dr Inam Pal, Dr Tayyaba Ansari, Dr Saulat Fatmi, Dr Aliya Aziz, Dr Abdus Samad and Dr Nadeem Pervez, UAE among others. Dr Tazeen Ali and Dr Adnan Jabbar presented the vote of thanks at the concluding session.
For more information, contact:Rasool Bux SarangMedia ExecutiveDepartment of Public AffairsAga Khan University (AKU)Stadium Road, KarachiTel: +92-21-34930051Fax: +92-21-34934294, +92-21-34932095Cell: +92-301-8258028Email: rasool.sarang@aku.edu, public.affairs@aku.eduWebsite: www.aku.edu

News Reporter