Medical experts urge women to combat breast cancer with preventive screenings

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Staff Report

Breast cancer is one of the major causes of cancer-related deaths in women in the Middle East. According to the latest figures released by the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi, there are 4,500 new cases of cancer reported in the UAE alone, with breast, colorectal and lung cancers acquiring top spots. World Health Organization report shows that, compared to its neighbouring countries, the UAE has a higher incident rate of 36.7 cases per 100 women.

“Breast cancer is a growing condition with women in the region. However, many women identify the condition only at an advanced stage,” said Dr. Aref Hammam, Consultant – General Surgery at Bareen International Hospital in MBZ City, Abu Dhabi.

So far in 2018, it is estimated that 627,000 women have died from breast cancer across the globe, which is about 15 percent of all cancer-related deaths among women.

“Breast cancer has four stages, defined by the prevalence and size of the tumor. The chances of survival are between 95 to 100 percent if the breast cancer is detected at stage one. But if the condition is detected at stage two, the survival chance decreases to 86 percent. If breast cancer is detected at stage three, the survival rate goes down to 57 percent. These figures underline the importance of screening and early detection in order to improve the chances of survival,” said Dr. Nazura Siddiqi, Specialist – Obstetrics and Gynecology at Bareen International Hospital.

Aside from age, gender, and family history, prolonged exposure to estrogen, in various forms, can also increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Those who began menstruating at an early age (below 13 years), those who have not given birth, those who have not breastfed, those who had their first child after age 30, those who have used oral contraceptives, those who had late menopause (after age 50), those who have used hormone replacement therapy have higher chance of developing breast cancer. “Unhealthy lifestyle choices – drinking alcohol, smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, and unhealthy food preferences such as fast food and processed food, also significantly contribute in increasing the risk of having breast cancer. It is strongly recommended that women who belong to any of these categories to be proactive about regular screenings. Early detection is the key,” added Dr. Nazura.
“Healthy eating habits and exercise are beneficial for many reasons. Exercise alone can reduce inflammation, improve the immune system and lead to a drop in body fat, which is associated with a lower breast cancer risk,” added Dr. Aref. In a 2015 JAMA Oncology study, researchers found that about 300 minutes of physical activity per week is ideal for breast cancer prevention.
In an endeavour to raise awareness about breast cancer and help those whose lives have been affected by the condition, Bareen International Hospital offers FREE consultations and clinical breast examinations for the general public. Moreover, the hospital regularly hosts lectures and workshops at schools, universities, private companies and government units for this month. The lectures tackle breast cancer risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and self-breast exams.
A launch event open to the community along with Bareen management, staff, and guests/patients and with Chief Guest Ms. Dana Al Hammadi, Emirati social icon, shall be staged at the main lobby of the hospital. The event promotes good health and wellness and raises the awareness on the significance of early detection. There will be pink balloon release, cake-cutting, and banner signing to support the cause.
In addition, the hospital distributes literatures on the importance of preventive screening, dons a pink look with kiosks, banners, and screen ads, and turns its whole facade pink at night to echo its strong support to the community. -abdulbasit@theuaenews.com