Launch Ceremony of the 8th Edition of the Pink Caravan Ride an Initiative of the Friends Of Cancer Patients Society at Sharjah. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Getting screened for breast and cervical cancer became a lot easier for people in the UAE today.

The annual Pink Caravan Ride, which offers free screenings and medical examinations to UAE residents, started today and will go on till March 6, to cover seven emirates in seven days.

Shaikh Abdullah Bin Salim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, the Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the Ride at the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club. 450 horse riders, 700 volunteers and 570 medical experts have been part of the ride across the seven emirates advocating the importance of breast cancer awareness, timely detection, prevention and treatment.

In the past seven years, the ride has covered a distance of 1,640km and successfully detected around 47 breast cancer cases. It has also provided free medical screenings to 48,874 people including 32,093 expat residents and 16,781 Emiratis. Of these, 9,643 were men.

Reem Bin Karam, Chairperson of the Pink Caravan Ride Higher Steering Committee, stressed on the importance of early detection. Speaking to Gulf News, she said: “Pink Caravan has launched its first mobile clinic, the clinic will be available 365 days a year. At the same time we have also provided permanent clinics for everyone. The whole idea behind the Pink Caravan is preventative and early detection. If breast cancer is detected early - the survival rate is 98 per cent. So, there is just a 2 per cent chance of failure. However, if it is detected late we sadly lose the patient.”

She also clarified on the misconception that breast cancer only affects women.

“We would love to have more men come to the clinics....”

She added that in every Emirate there was one clinic dedicated for men with male nursing staff.

Badr Al Jaaidi, project manager of the Pink Caravan Ride said their social media channels would constantly update residents on where they could find the Pink Caravan.

“We will have four clinics in each Emirate, with one clinic offering services to men. So, please join us.”

The entire screening process for breast cancer takes approximately 22 minutes, according to Reem, but can end up saving your life.