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.”