Pakistan registers 148,000 new cases of cancer every year: experts

February 2, 2018

KARACHI: Pakistan with about 148,000 new cases of cancer annually can benefit from new research into the molecular structure and genetic make-up of tumors paving way for more targeted cancer treatment, said experts attending the 3rd Annual Surgical Meeting Surgical Oncology – Evidence and Practice at Aga Khan University here Friday.

The conference organized in line with global efforts to achieve targets under goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, aims at ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Target 3.4.1 of the goal calls for special efforts to reduce deaths caused by cancer till 2030, said Prof. Dr. Masood Umer, chair of the conference.

He observed that bringing together experts from around the world promotes the sharing of advances in the field of oncology and boost chances of detecting the disease in early stages and deliver more effective treatment for cancer patients across the country.

The 3rd Annual Surgical Meeting was organized in collaboration with the European Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the International Journal of Surgery.

Speakers were of unanimous opinion that molecular analysis of brain tissue is revealing the distinctive “signature” of tumors that are otherwise of a similar type and stage.

It was noted with satisfaction that a partnership between Pakistani and Canadian researchers is resulting in the transfer of knowledge and skills stemming from this novel research.

Faculty from Aga Khan University were said be to currently working with researchers on the tumor boards of the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Canada, to explore how these molecular insights can enhance the treatment of complicated cases of brain cancer.

“Insights from molecular biology are helping oncologist select the most suitable course of cancer treatment and more accurately predict the response to targeted therapy,” mentioned Dr. Shahzad Shamim, an associate professor at AKU’s department of surgery.

This, he said will ensure optimal treatment for each tumor and a longer, better quality of life for each patient.

Experts from 14 countries around the world attending the two-day multidisciplinary conference to explore the latest developments in cancer surgery, diagnostics, pathology and treatment also discussed in detail innovations in reconstructive surgery helping restore the function of organs affected by the spread of cancer.

Speakers noted that techniques such as intra-operative monitoring enabled surgeons to stimulate parts of the spine to quickly and painlessly detect areas that can be reconstructed.

This means that damaged areas of the spine, which were previously deemed too dangerous to operate on, can now be mended and rebuilt, said Dr. Umer an associate professor at AKU’s department of surgery.

Experts opined that technological advances in orthopaedic surgery meant that high quality implants can be used to replace bones and joints damaged by the spread of cancer, thereby helping preserve essential body functions.

Robot-assisted surgery was another prominent theme of the conference and the concerned speakers were of the opinion that the use of robots in the operating theater can enhance the precision of surgeries, they added that the process of learning how to work with technology was typically very demanding in terms of time and difficulty.

The conference’s inaugural session was preceded by a day of 25 workshops and symposiums at the Universitas Centre for Innovation in Medical Education. – APP