Abu Dhabi: Six out of 1,000 women over the age of 40 screened for breast cancer have the disease, according to the National Breast Screening Centre.

The National Breast Screening Centre (NBSC) revealed the statistics during its first educational meeting with Ministry of Health (MoH) female employees.

The centre invited all employees in the MoH to attend yesterday's meeting regarding breast cancer. According to Margaret Atrash, Technical Coordinator, NBSC, the centre has been targeting women across the UAE since its initiation in 1996 and ignored employees in ministries, including the MoH.

The NBSC which is affiliated to the MoH, revealed that in 1999 only 250 women visited the centre for a breast examination. Today more than 3,500 women visit the centre annually and the number is increasing with more awareness and education about the disease.

According to Dr Mona Al Sebelgy, Consultant Family Medicine and in charge of the NBSC programme, from 1999 to 2007, 55,000 breast cancer examinations and mammograms have been performed by the centre. The cancer detection rate stands as six out of every 1,000 women aged over 40, which is compatible with international figures.

She explained that breast cancer is a state in which cells function and grow out of control and arise as either a malignant tumour or a benign tumour.


"80 per cent of breast lumps are benign which is good news for women."

During a presentation, it was advised that women aged 20 and above undergo self-examination on the fifth day of her cycle. The procedure is easy to learn and will not take more than five minutes.

If above the age of 40, a clinical breast examination and mammogram should be carried out. A mammogram is done bi-annually and is the most reliable way of detecting breast cancer.

"As females get older, we cannot prevent breast cancer since to date we do not know the causes behind it. We can however, detect it," said Atrash.

One of the attendees asked: "Can breast cancer be prevented?"

The answer was no. Specialists explained that there is no specific vaccine or medicine to prevent breast cancer, but survival rates are very positive for early detection of breast cancer with an above 90 success rate.

In 2007, the centre received 800 positive screen mammograms due to radiographers detecting suspicious conditions among the women. However, only ten out of the 800 conditions turned out to have cancer.

Employees from NBSE are due to visit eight different clinics in the capital city from March 23 until the end of the month to hold awareness campaigns for women in clinic waiting areas. This will mark the centre's first such initiative.

"Our role is to create more awareness among women and encourage them to come forward and take these examinations. We have had cases where some women with breast cancer passed away due to being detected too late, we don't want to witness this happening often and aim to avoid it before it's too late," added Atrash.

Free checks: Centres across UAE

The national screening programme provides Breast Cancer Mammography Centres free of charge at:

  • Abu Dhabi 02-6311172 / 02-6215525
  • Dubai 04-2721670
  • Al Ain 03-7627777
  • Sharjah 06-5245477
  • Umm Al Quwain 06-7655886