Hundreds of women in Dubai took part in the Hope Breast Cancer awareness campaign.
Launched by the DHA in collaboration with Zabeel Ladies Club, the campaign concluded last Thursday. More than 300 women participated in the event.
Sheikha Shamsa bint Hashar Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Women’s Committee and Board Member of the UAE Volleyball Association attended the event.
The month-long campaign marked global Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place annually in October The initiative was organised by the Public Health Protection Department at the DHA. The team visited several government departments in Dubai to educate women about screening methods and to raise awareness about breast cancer.
Dr Badreyya Al Harmi, Director of the Public Health Protection Department at the DHA says, “When it comes to breast cancer, early detection is the key message. It greatly increases survival rates and may lead to lesser invasive methods of treatment. There are three optimal methods of early diagnosis with a goal of detecting the disease as early as possible. The methods include self-examination every month from the age of 20 years, clinical breast examinations and mammograms from the age of 40 years.
“While there is a higher risk of developing breast cancer if there is a family history of cancer, it is important for women to understand that all women are at a risk of developing the disease whether they are genetically predisposed or not. Therefore, every woman should follow the screening practice.”
Dr Hend Al Awadhi, Head of Health Promotion and Education Section at Public Health Protection Department in DHA says that given the global prevalence of the disease, it is important for all women to understand that being a woman and increasing age are two risk factors of the disease. “When we carry out health awareness campaigns, we often find women telling us that they do not have a family history of cancer and they inquire whether they still need to begin self-examinations every month. The answer is yes. All women should screen themselves because early detection does save lives.”
Breast cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in women and the second most common cancer globally. According to World Cancer Research Fund, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, contributing 25.4 per cent of the total number of new cases diagnosed in 2018. In the US, one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Although breast cancer may occur in men, its occurrence is rare.
Al Awadhi said that those with a family history of cancer should begin screening earlier. “The first mammogram should take place at 40 years of age and every year thereafter. Those with a family history of breast cancer should begin screening earlier. If a woman has a first-degree relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, she should opt for yearly screening 10 years before the age of her relative’s diagnosis. However, she should start regular self-exams earlier.”
At Zabeel Ladies Club, panel discussions took place on topics such as diet and breast cancer, latest methods of treatment and mental health strategies. Breast cancer survivors also shared their story on strength and courage and reemphasised the importance of early detection.
The campaign also included clinical breast examinations and educating women on how to conduct monthly self-examinations.