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Breast Cancer is the second commonest cancer in Kashmir: Experts

SRINAGAR, INDIAN-OCCUPIED KASHMIR: With its incidence showing an increasing tendency over last couple of decades, Breast cancer has emerged as a major concern among the female population of the Kashmir Valley. However there is no actual database available, yet preliminary indications point towards a rise in the occurrence of Breast Cancer amongst women in Kashmir.

As per rough estimates, the department of Radiation, Oncology SMHS received 931 patients suffering from Cancer. Officials at the Oncology Department SMHS say that on an average 1-2 patients suffering from Breast Cancer alone come from the treatment.

Renowned Oncologist of the valley, Dr Ashiq Hussain Naqshbandi claims that since last 25 years there has been an alarming upsurge in the number of patients suffering from different forms of Cancer especially Breast Cancer in Kashmir. To study the cause and effect of the rising prevalence of Cancer in Kashmir, a research project was taken up by Dr Naqshbandi in 1997 in and around downtown area of Srinagar. The research put forth that most of the patients suffering from Cancer belonged to Dal areas like Rainawari, Khanyar and Hawal.

“In my observation, I found that people living in downtown areas were at the higher risk of Breast Cancer. The prime reason was the lack of awareness among Kashmiri women,” said Dr Naqshbandi.

Breast Cancer is a major killer disease in females globally and in developing regions, where the early cancer detection facilities remain unavailable. A local study conducted on the analysis of Breast Cancer in Kashmiri women implies that Breast Cancer is the 2nd common cancer in the valley after Oesophageal Cancer. Besides, In India too Breast Cancer is the 2nd common Cancer among women however the first being Cervical Cancer.

Breast Cancer occurs with the highest incidence within the age group 30-50 and is approximately three times higher in urban areas as compared to rural areas. Besides, lack of awareness, a number of specific reasons are said to be responsible for the increased risk of Breast Cancer. “Women who have had more monthly cycles because they started their cycles at an early age (before 12) and/or went through menopause at a later age (after 55) have a slightly higher risk of Breast Cancer. Another reason can be the genetic factor. A woman's risk of developing breast cancer is higher if her mother, sister, or daughter had the same problem,” said Dr Naqshbandi.

Obesity has been consistently associated with an increased risk of Breast Cancer among postmenopausal women. Dr Naqshbandi said, “Fat cells produce estrogen and obese postmenopausal women tend to have higher blood estrogen levels than lean women.”

Dr Naqshbandi who is also the Management officer at ‘Cancer Society of Kashmir’ said that on an average 5-6 fresh/new patients suffering from Breast cancer admit themselves in different hospitals of the valley per day while most of them prefer to go outside the state for their treatment. The cost of treatment ranges from Rs 50,000 to 20 Lakh, depending upon the stage of the disease.

The disease which is gradually on rise has now become known as one of the main causes of death among women in Kashmir. Underscoring the need for early diagnosis and timely treatment of the patients, Dr Naqshbandi said that awareness about this disease can lead to early detection and thereby decrease the mortality rate. “Awareness campaigns, life style, dietary habit changes, self examination and early detection of the disease are very important for Cancer control especially when a women turns over 40,” added Dr Naqshbandi.

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