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American Hospital Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women worldwide. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, while 685,000 women died from it globally. As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer.

The burden of breast cancer is significantly high in the UAE as well – among all cancers diagnosed in the country in 2018, 22.4 per cent were breast cancer, stated a WHO study.

Despite high incidence, with early diagnosis and treatment, people with breast cancer usually have a good prognosis. With its experienced team of healthcare professionals and strong infrastructural support, American Hospital Dubai is at forefront of cancer treatment in the UAE, offering top-notch care to patients in the country, as well as those visiting from the neighbouring states.

Tech at the heart of cancer care

Its Breast Care Centre takes a multi-modality approach to care, combining state-of-the-art technology with a highly qualified and dedicated multi-disciplinary team. From early detection and diagnosis to treatment and after-care, the cancer care team at American Hospital Dubai stays with the patient at every step of her journey, providing support and guidance. The centre also has facilities for comprehensive breast assessment, which leads to early diagnosis and detection of the disease.

The Breast Care Centre uses the leading-edge technology to offer a range of services from routine screening to treatment planning — even for high-risk patients. The use of advanced cancer technologies paves the way for accurate diagnosis, better treatment outcomes, adequate risk management and improved patient satisfaction.

Know your risks

Diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are only possible when people are more aware of the disease, know who it is likely to affect, and what can be done about it, say doctors.

“Breast screening for women who don’t have any risk factors should begin at the age of 40. Screening is also advisable for women who don’t have any symptoms as we can find small tumours before they become palpable,” says Dr Kinda Douaidari, Interventional Breast Radiologist, American Hospital Dubai.

Tools for screening

Mammogram is the gold standard in breast imaging, and the new breakthrough technology 3D tomosynthesis mammography provides images of the breast in “slices” from many different angles, says Dr Douaidari. “It’s far more sensitive in finding small abnormalities and determining which are important.”

“Ultrasound is a complementary exam and ideal for dense breasts. MRI detects small cancer and breast changes. Interventional procedures such as core or vacuum biopsies guided by ultrasound, stereotactic or tomosynthesis are also used; and we are very proud to have this technology in American Hospital Dubai,” she adds.

“Vacuum-assisted excisions are another form of interventional procedures as well as pre-surgical wire or seed localisations. At American Hospital Dubai, we adopt a multi-modality approach, consisting of a combination of imaging methods and interventional procedures to detect small changes in the breast,” Dr Douaidari explains.

“We use personalised screening tests, and an individualised approach to breast cancer screening using supplemental methods such as ultrasound and an MRI in addition to mammogram. Based on risk and breast density markers, it’s tailored for each woman depending on her breast type and risk factors.”

After the diagnosis, oncologists at American Hospital Dubai design a personalised treatment plan based on their findings. Treatment for breast cancer may include a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and/or targeted hormone or biological therapies and medication, while assessing the stage and metastasis.

Breast reconstruction to boost body image

Not only do patients have to battle the trauma of cancer treatment and its side effects, breast cancer and mastectomy can wreak havoc on their mental health. Alongside surgeries and routine breast cancer treatment, patients,at American Hospital Dubai, also have access to reconstruction procedures and various therapies to support them before, during and after the treatment process.

“When treating breast cancer, priority is given to oncology treatments, but reconstruction also plays a major role in the journey,” says Dr Frea Perdawood, Consultant Oncoplastic and Reconstructive Breast Surgery, American Hospital Dubai. “Breast reconstruction can make the patient feel better about how she looks and renews her self-confidence.”

Clinical offerings
● Digital 3D mammogram (tomosynthesis) — the latest technology in breast cancer screening and diagnosis
● Dedicated breast ultrasound with elastography
● MRI breast
● Contrast-enhanced mammography
● Tomosynthesis guided vacuum-assisted biopsy
● Stereotactic vacuum-assisted needle biopsy
● Ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy
● Ultrasound-guided vacuum-assisted biopsy and excision
● Marker placement and wire localisation by ultrasound or mammogram guidance
● Pre-surgical radiofrequency seed placement

Availability of technology works best when the patient visits the hospital on time. Act now and book an appointment with American Hospital Dubai’s breast cancer surgeon today.

After undergoing surgery, a patient might opt for breast reconstruction either immediately after the surgery, or later.

“The breast reconstruction process can start at the time of mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), or it can be done later (delayed reconstruction),” says Dr Perdawood. “The breast reconstruction process sometimes requires two or more operations. Sometimes the patient is advised to wait until after radiation and chemotherapy are finished. This means reconstruction might be done six to 12 months after mastectomy or lumpectomy. Reconstruction also can be done years later, if desired.”

Dr Perdawood, however, adds, “The patient should have realistic expectations of how her body will look and feel after the surgery, and understand the benefits and risks of the type of reconstruction the patient will be offered by her medical team.

Get the right support

Starting from the cancer diagnosis to going through the surgery and then the rigors of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy, breast cancer treatment, for most patients, is a long and challenging journey.

“From recovery after a breast cancer surgery to annual follow-ups, there are multiple steps in the process. That is why it is very important to support the patient mentally, psychologically as well as physically,” says Dr Wisam Ismail, General and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, American Hospital Dubai.

“Patients usually become very anxious as the treatment begins and of its outcome. They also have plenty of questions; so we encourage them to visit the clinic several times to assess and decide what is best for them. It also gives them time to absorb the information we share with them and make an informed choice.”