"It is easy to treat patients if the disease is screened early. Usually, in such cases, patients do not even require radiotherapy or chemotherapy."
Doctors stress the need to shift focus on screening and the early detection of cancer to reduce the rising number of deaths from the disease. They say early detection enables treatment before the symptoms become apparent.
They also say, "This can make cancer easier to treat, or even to cure."
Experts gave their opinion at the 'First National Conference on Cancer Screening' at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU). The Community Oncology Centre Trust and the National Institute of Cancer Research jointly organised the programme at BSMMU's Milton Hall on Monday.
Prominent cancer specialists and young physicians presented 20 scientific papers at the seminar.
Dr Md Habibullah Talukder Ruskin, chief of the Cancer Epidemiology Department at the National Institute of Cancer Research, said, screenings can help detect cancer at an early stage before the symptoms appear. It is easy to treat patients if the disease is screened early. Usually, in such cases, patients do not even require radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
"If the disease is diagnosed after the symptoms become apparent — that is detection, not screening. Screening is associated with conducting simple and low-cost tests on vulnerable groups who do not show the symptoms," he explained.
Dr Ruskin said, "There is screening for all types of cancer. According to the World Health Organization standard, massive screening to detect breast, cervical and oral cancer is possible."
Vice-Chancellor of BSMMU Professor Kanak Kanti Barua said, "Previously, cancer was thought to be incurable. But the disease is totally curable if detected early. The death rate could be slashed if prevention campaigns carry out countrywide screening for oral and cervical cancer."
Dr Ruskin also emphasised the need to shift focus on the society-level approach from the hospital-centric method for the detection of the disease. He said that government initiatives to prevent cervical and breast cancer in recent years have witnessed remarkable progress.
Dr Ruskin suggested listing maxillofacial cancer to the awareness campaign.
The chief of the Gynaecological Oncology Department at BSMMU, Prof Sabera Khatun, presided over the seminar while oncologist Prof MA Hai and BSMMU Pro-VC Prof Shahidullah Shikder also spoke there.
A specialist from Michigan University, USA, spoke about technology-based cancer screening at the programme. Around 200 doctors, volunteers and cancer survivors also attended the day-long seminar.