Abu Dhabi: Five years ago a 30-year-old Emirati female under the initials R.A. detected a lump in her left breast while taking a shower. She was scared and immediately suspected breast cancer.

The next morning she went for a biopsy test and the doctor in charge told her that there was nothing to worry about.

For re-assurance purposes she went to a second clinic for further tests and a mammography.

"After the test results were out, I could see doctors speaking privately with my father and brother. The sad reaction on their faces confirmed my doubts. Then my mother started to weep and approached me for a hug, I knew I had breast cancer," said R.A.

After seeking a second opinion at yet another hospital, doctors told R.A. that she had second degree cancer and that she needed to remove her left breast.

'I was young'

"I was very young and had a lot to look forward to, like being a mother and breastfeeding my children. My sister however advised me to go for another medical diagnosis and opinion in a specialised cancer hospital, and I listened to her and thank God I did," she said.

R.A. felt that her battle with breast cancer would soon end after doctors informed her that she only needed to surgically remove the lump in her left breast and not the whole breast. She was also advised to start chemotherapy and radiation procedures.

"After five years of investigation and treatment I was completely cured from all cancerous cells, but I still undergo yearly check-ups just in case," said R.A. who advises other woman over 40 years to go for a mammography every six months. "After advising my sister, friends and mother to perform breast self examination every month and do regular mammography check-ups, my own mother discovered that she had breast cancer and had to surgically remove her breast. She's still being treated."

Dr Hassan Jaafar, a Medical Oncologist with 12 years experience in the treatment of breast cancer and nine years working in Tawam Hospital diagnosed R.A. with early stage two breast cancer.

His diagnosis said, "She underwent a lumpectomy and two conservative surgeries followed by six cycles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The patient also completed five years of hormonal therapy. She is now in complete remission and has an annual MRi and mammogram," said Jaafar, who advices other breast cancer victims to have a professional advisers, including psychologists and social services officers coordinating with a medical team.

Did you know?

- The majority of breast cancer cases in the UAE are malignant and are detected late?

- The mortality rate among breast cancer patients in the UAE is high.

- An oncology hospital will soon open in Al Ain.

- Eating healthy low fat diet and exercising is encouraged among breast cancer patients.

- One per cent of all breast cancers diagnosed are male. Some studies suggest that there lies a higher risk among men with testicular disorders and radiation exposure.

- Common risk factors in breast cancer include getting older or having a strong family history of female/male breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

Has someone you know suffered from breast cancer? How did it impact you? Do you think there is enough awareness about the disease? What more can be done? Fill in the form bellow to send your comments

Your comments

I thank Gulf News for giving us awareness about Breast Cancer. We, expatriates are very thankful to the Abu Dhabi govt for providing us the facility to take mammography free of charge while the charge for mammography in private hospitals are very high. I think most of the expatriate women in the UAE dont know this. There is a free test at Al Nahyan Clinic.
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: October 19, 2008, 09:02