Check your breasts, Mom
How your children can save your life
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the world for women, and in the UAE, it’s the second biggest killer of females after cardiovascular disease according to health figures. It’s often quoted that the chances of having breast cancer are one in eight – and yet what we don’t focus on is that if breast cancer is detected early, the survival rate is 98 per cent.
Dr Nada Altabara, a gynecology and obstetrics specialist at the Wellbeing Medical Centre, Dubai, says that despite incredible campaigns during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a lot of women still don’t prioritise their health. (www. wellbeingmedicalcentre.com)
“According to government figures, only 30 per cent of cases in the UAE are diagnosed in the early stages when a chance of a cure is higher,” she explains. “This is much lower than in western countries. There’s still a high percentage of women who do not come for regular check-ups because they’re too busy. They forget to look after themselves.”
There is also a stigma in conservative local communities about women checking themselves. The good news is things are changing and Dr Nada agrees that awareness about breast cancer here has really advanced. “About 10 years ago, breast cancer was a cultural stigma in the Middle East because women didn’t talk about the disease,” Dr Nada says. “They went to see a doctor in the late stages so they didn’t benefit from early detection. Today, it’s changing.
“The government encourages families to proactively take charge of their health, helping to increase understanding and empower women in the fight against breast cancer.”
The Pink Caravan, a breast cancer awareness campaign, started in 2011 by Friends of Cancer Patients, a UAE charitable organisation, aims to encourage both women and men to self-examine and go for regular checkups. Its annual Pink Caravan ride sees more than 150 horse riders over 11 days travelling with a mobile screening unit across cities and remote regions, bringing together schools, universities and corporations. Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, Secretary General for the Friends of
‘There are normally no symptoms of early breast cancer, though as it grows it can form a lump’