Breast cancer could be a thing of the past if this new drug, which targets a protein excreted by unhealthy cells, proves to be successful in humans. The ground-breaking treatment focuses on the immune system, not the cancer. Image Credit: Rex Features

Abu Dhabi: Breast removal for treating breast cancer is outdated, inhumane and can be avoided regardless of how terminal the case might be, according to a distinguished cancer surgeon who has been invited to share his surgical techniques with oncologists in the UAE for the first time. 

Radio 2: Breast cancer care Consultant Health Psychologist Dr Melanie Schlatter talks to Accalia Hipwood from Radio 2 to discuss the importance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Dr Thomas Varughese, who was a cancer surgeon at India's premier cancer institute Tata Memorial Cancer Centre for over ten years, and currently chairs the cancer division of Lakeshore hospital and research centre, believes that cancer patients are entitled to organ preservation, scarless surgeries, and one-day discharges from hospitals.

Thomas technique

Known for his four publications on cancer, and participation in over 40 cancer conferences, Dr Varughese was invited to the UAE cancer congress to discuss the Thomas technique in breast oncoplastic surgery, which enables breast cancer patients to be discharged from hospital in a day.

"With modern comprehensive cancer care and targeted up-front chemotherapy several thousands of terminal cancer patients can be cured today. Modern day surgeries involve organ preservation in various parts of the human body. Breast removal due to breast cancer is out-dated and inhumane," Dr Varughese told Gulf News in an exclusive interview.

Controlled studies worldwide have proved that organ perservation scores over mastectomy (surgical removal of one or both breasts) in terms of quality of life, disease control, psychological satisfaction, bilateral symmetry, beauty and mental satisfaction of patient and partner, added the surgical oncologist.

Cancer is the third leading cause of death in the UAE after cardiovascular diseases and accidents. Data from the UAE Ministry of Health indicate that cancer accounts for approximately 500 deaths per year, with up to 22.8 per cent diagnosed cancer cases.

Mammogram screenings

However, the good news is that Mammogram screenings according to the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) have increased from 16 per cent in 2008 to 69 per cent in 2009, with a chance of reducing rates by 30 per cent if mammograms and self examinations continue.

Cancer can also be prevented with diet modifications, Dr. Varughese added. Smoking should also be curbed, and certain vaccinations should be put to use.

"With October being national breast cancer awareness month, we should act against this killer disease for women and... spread awareness about the importance of breast health concepts," concluded the surgeon.

Free check-up

A free mammogram camp will be held on October 22 from 12 noon to 8 pm at BurJuman in Dubai. You can nominate a deserving person for the free check-up. Safe and Sound is providing 2,000 free mammograms to women who find it difficult to meet the cost of this vital test. Download the form on www.Safeandsound.ae on how to nominate. The form has to be given in person at the camp.