Don’t have to crumble for cancer, there’s remedy, organisations

Physicians say that there are all opportunities available in the country for diagnosis and treatment of this exceptional type of blood cancer. There’s no need to go abroad.

Shahriar Hasan did not crumble down. At the age of 25, he was diagnosed with a distinct sort of blood cancer in 2001. He is doing well now, taking regular medicine and abiding by physician’s advice. In fact, he has formed an organisation to support other cancer patients as well.

Epidemiologists say, there are more than 30 types of cancer out there. One of those is the blood cancer or leukemia, which also has different kinds of its own. One of these is named chronic myeloid leukemia, better known as CML to oncologists. Shahriar Hasan is a CML patient.

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is also known as chronic myelogenous leukemia. It's a type of cancer that starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and invades the blood

CML is a type of blood cancer that slowly damages the white blood cells over a period of many years. CML is caused by a piece of chromosome 9 and a piece of chromosome 22 break off and trade places. And, World CML Awareness Day is observed on 22 September every year.

On the occasion of the day, hematology department of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) organised a special seminar on Thursday.

There is no accurate statistics as to how many people are suffering from which cancer in Bangladesh. However, according to global cancer monitoring organisation GLOBOCAN, more than 156 thousand (156,775) people are newly diagnosed with cancer in Bangladesh per year. Among them, 2,812 people are diagnosed with blood cancer and 2,132 people die of it.

There are no separate global statistics on CML. However, approximately 5 to 10 per cent of all blood cancers are CML cases. Its prevalence is slightly higher in men than in women.

Professor Md Salahuddin Shah, a prominent hematologist and chairman of the hematology department at BSMMU told Prothom Alo, Bangladesh has all kinds of facilities for the treatment of CML. There are specialists for diagnosis and treatment. Plus, medicines are also available in the country. So, no one needs to go abroad for CML treatment.

Salahuddin Shah believes it is important for people to be aware of this disease and be alert. CML symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, night sweats, and enlarged spleen. If these symptoms are noticed, a physician should be consulted.

With these symptoms at a young age of only 25, Shahriar Hasan was diagnosed with this cancer. He used to work at an organisation back then. Leaving that job, he’s running a business now.

While talking to Prothom Alo, this cancer warrior said, since the disease is not completely curable, medicines have to be taken regularly throughout life.

Though there are medicines available for this disease in the country, it is impossible for poor patients to buy and consume these medicines regularly, he added.

Thinking about those poor patients, cancer warriors like Shahriar Hasan formed an organisation themselves. Alongside making people aware, the organisation named Bangladesh CML Support Group helps poor patients with medicinal as well as financial support.

Currently the group has a membership of 100. Shahriar Hasan told Prothom Alo, “Through the organisation, we ourselves stood by each other. I hope for aware people to stand by us.”