Experts from across the country and abroad have called for extensive research in the field of cancer that has emerged to cause no less than 8 million deaths in the world with all chances of approximately 70 percent rise in the next two decades.
Addressing the 18th National Health Sciences Research Symposium “Cancer: Promoting comprehensive care,” that drew to a close Thursday evening at Aga Khan University (AKU), they mentioned that almost twothirds of annual Cancer cases are registered in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.
In the given situation the experts cited “Research” to be the key for prevention and treatment strategies.
Consultant Oncologist at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Oman Dr Ikram Burney, in his presentation compared the hospitals active in research with those that are inactive and quoting a study of 165 hospitals, concluded that 80 studied 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 specialization.
An essential part of cancer treatment is managing pain, said Professor and Chairman, Department of Anesthesiology, AKU, Dr Gauhar Afshan.
Mentioning 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, Dr Gauhar Afshan 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.
Focussing on the oftenneglected topic of nutrition, Senior Dietician at AKUH, Bushra Mushtaq, 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 dietician helped cancer patients improve their protein intake by around 239 kcal 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 when the disease is diagnosed at an early stage falling to a very low 03 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.
Dean, Medical College, AKU, Dr Farhat Abbas, 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 canceris 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 healthservices 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 Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, AKU, Dr Shabbir Akhtar, who moderated the session.
The symposium also comprised parallel sessions on colorectal malignancies, genitourinary and gynaecological malignancies and neurooncology.
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.

News Reporter