Check your breasts, Mom

How your chil­dren can save your life

Friday - - Front Page -

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’

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