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Raising Breast Cancer awareness | don’t ignore the unusual signs in your breasts!

Bilal foundation organized ‘Breast cancer awareness camp' on Saturday 10th Nov 2018 here at Bilal Hospital as part of its long term efforts to educate women about life threatening diseases such as breast cancer. The event was designed to raise awareness in the local community about the symptoms of breast cancer and how women can do regular breast self-examination (BSE) at home. There was also a Q & A session at the end of the program.

Dr Arifa Manzooor (General Laparoscopic and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon) said that nearly one in every eight women in Pakistan is diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Pakistan has the highest incidence of breast cancer is Asia. Due to lack of awareness, indigenous mores, and unavailability of adequate screening program nationwide, around 40,000 women lose their lives every year in Pakistan. Screening and early detection of breast cancer can save many lives.

Dr. Arifa stressed that the first step in preventing breast cancer is to equip ourselves with the right knowledge. The second step is to apply that knowledge while doing breast self-examination (BSE) and lastly if you have some risk factors or have noticed anything unusual during your examination, talk to a breast cancer specialist doctor for quick diagnosis and treatment plan. It is not necessary that each lump in breast or armpit is cancerous, but to be on the safe side always opt for a specialist opinion right away. Don’t wait for it to become a life threatening problem for you in future.

She also busted the prevailing myth that the only option for breast cancer surgery is mastectomy (complete removal of breast). She informed the visitors that breast conservation surgery (BCS) can be a solution for many women. It is an operation to remove the cancer while leaving as much normal breast as possible. How much of the breast is removed depends on the size and location of the tumor and other factors.

Remember Breast cancer can be treated if it is caught on early and the best solution is to have the knowledge and awareness to take care of your health on day to day basis

What to look for during self-examination:

When you check your breasts, try to be aware of any changes that are different for you. Become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breast. Some unusual signs to look out for are:

  • A new lump in your breast or underarm (armpit)
  • Thickening or swelling of part of your breast
  • Irritation or dimpling of your breast skin (like the orange peel)
  • Pulling in of your nipple or pain in your nipple area
  • Bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
  • Redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • Pain in your breast or armpit that’s there all or almost all of the time
  • A swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone

In addition to BSE, an annual breast exam by a female doctor (preferably breast cancer specialist) is recommended for all women after the age of 20 whereas, annual screening mammograms are recommended at age 40 and above. Women younger than 40 who have a family history or other risk factors for breast cancer should discuss their risks and an appropriate screening schedule with their doctor.

Dr. Arifa Manzoor

MBBS(AMC), MRCS(UK), FCPS General Surgery, MHPE(DUHS) Medical Education, OJT Breast Oncoplastic Surgery (UK)


Dr. Arifa Manzoor completed her MBBS degree in 2005 from Army Medical College, National University of Sciences and Technology, Rawalpindi. She did her internship from MH/CMH Rawalpindi followed by four years Training in General Surgery from PIMS, Islamabad. She did Masters in Medical Education from Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi. She is currently working as Assistant Professor General Surgery at PIMS, Islamabad.

She is practicing Surgeon and has varied experience of management of emergency and elective General Surgery cases. She is involved in medical research and has a number of publications and has presented her work both nationally and internationally. She is an active participant in the teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate students at PIMS, FMDC and CPSP.

Her special interest is the management of Breast Diseases and Breast Conservation Surgery for carcinoma Breast. She did training for advanced oncoplastic breast surgery procedures from Edinburgh, UK. She has attended numerous national and international workshops for advanced oncoplastic and reconstructive breast surgery.