LAHORE: The Shaukat Khanum Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign has been launched, which is part of the global efforts to raise awareness on breast cancer in the month of October. Every year, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) organises an extensive campaign to educate the public about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. As previous years, SKMT will illuminate landmark buildings in pink this year as well in various cities of Pakistan, such as the President House and the Jinnah Mausoleum (Mazaar-e-Quaid). The illuminated buildings will serve as a reminder to the public that women should take out five minutes for regular check-ups, which is essential for early detection of breast cancer.
The SKMT has been raising awareness on the subject of breast cancer for the past two decades. According to an estimate, the ten-year survival rate for all types of breast cancer has improved by an encouraging figure of 25 to 30% over this period. While this improvement shows a better understanding of the disease, earlier detection and improvement in treatment of breast cancer, we need to sustain our awareness efforts to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients.
As part of the awareness campaign, SKMT is organising a number of different activities for the public. A Pink Walkathon and a Pink Polo match are planned in Lahore. For cooking enthusiasts, there will be an online Pink Cooking and Baking Contest. Pink Tea Parties are already being organised by supporters from around the World. These activities aim to break the taboo around the subject and to make it into an acceptable topic of conversation inside homes. Additionally, SKMT is conducting online awareness sessions for students of educational institutes and employees of corporate sectors in the major cities of Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Gujrat, Jehlum, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur and Hyderabad.
Breast cancer is the commonest cancer in women worldwide and Pakistan has one of the highest incidences of breast cancer in Asia. Over the years, breast cancer continues to be the highest reported malignancy at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centres in Lahore and in Peshawar. In addition to public awareness efforts, SKMT offers a range of educational and training programmes for healthcare professionals such as Fellowship in Breast Surgery. A dedicated research section continues to perform research into the causes of cancer in our population and SKMT has published a number of studies on the subject of breast cancer.
If detected early, breast cancer has a high survival rate and therefore, we need to make a concerted effort towards early detection of this cancer to save lives. No one should have to succumb to a disease, which is treatable, due to inaccessibility. For this reason, SKMT provides financially supported treatment to over 75% of all cancer patients in an effort to diminish barriers to access, which is made possible largely due to the support of generous Pakistanis.