Pakistan has the highest occurrence rate of breast cancer among Asian countries: one in nine women is at risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
However the high mortality rate in Pakistan is largely due to late diagnosis. Early diagnosis plays a vital role in treating a cancer and gives 90% chance at survival. Women in Pakistan face a lot of socioeconomic barriers and thus fail to report early for a diagnosis.
According to a recent study, 40.7% of Pakistani women wasted their time using alternative medicines, 17.1% ignored painless lumps and 10.6% presented late because they considered the breast a secret organ.
- Patient level barriers:
- Low health literacy
- Concealing breast lumps from family members out of shame.
- Negative sociocultural perceptions of cancer.
- Failure to go to a hospital to avoid being seen by a male doctor.
- Referring to religious peers for spiritual advice and support.
- Poor socioeconomic status. A majority of patients, especially from rural areas, report late because of financial constraints or they believe that treatment will be unaffordable for them.
- System level barriers :
- Low health budget
- Lack of awareness programs regarding breast cancer.
- Lack of trained manpower and infrastructure.
- Lack of guidelines for a uniform referral system for breast cancer patients.
- Shortage of adequate medical facilities like mammography, supply of oncologists and nursing specialists as well.
- Lack of comprehensive registries/databases to document breast cancer death rates, accurate annual occurrence or the number of new cases regarding early management.
- Although Pakistan has charity hospitals and many other non-government organizations to support poor cancer patients, but low awareness and knowledge about walk-in clinics, majority of patients struggle with health-care needs at local-level care facilities
In order to address the urgency of breast cancer, Pakistan is in dire need to initiate multi-pronged strategies, community-level awareness, promoting the early detection of breast cancer, overcoming the barriers in the provision of better health facilities and making diagnosis easy.
ROLE OF PINK RIBBON PAKISTAN:
Pink Ribbon Pakistan is a non-funded, self-sustained and the only organization in the country which is dedicatedly working on the issue of breast cancer with nationwide outreach since 2004.
From creating year-around nationwide breast cancer awareness to building Pakistan’s 1st dedicated Breast Cancer Hospital which aims to provide world-class diagnosis and treatment services including OPD, Ultrasound, Mammogram, Chemotherapy, Surgery, and in-patient facility to 40,000 patients annually.
Our mission is to prevent and cure breast cancer by creating widespread awareness through community engagement on prevention, early detection and increased access to treatment to breast cancer.