Sharjah: The latest edition of the ongoing Pink Caravan Ride (PCR), an initiative of Sharjah-based Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), has already provided hundreds of free breast cancer screenings in the UAE and raised awareness on early detection since its launch on February 4. Horseback campaigners and mobile clinics will have covered all seven emirates by the conclusion of the Ride on February 10.
Since its launch in 2011, 910 PCR volunteers have dedicated over 400,000 work hours, 820 equestrians from many different nations have travelled more than 1,950km, and 986 PCR medical clinics have conducted over 75,000 free screenings, including 13,000 screenings for men.
However, the efforts to promote breast cancer awareness and education are not limited to this event alone. Throughout the year, the FOCP sustains its efforts to empower individuals with the knowledge they need to keep the disease at bay. FOCP told Gulf News there are a number of steps that people can take to reduce their risk and promote early detection.
First, it’s important for people to be aware of their own body and to conduct regular self-exams. This can help to detect any changes or abnormalities early on. Breast cancer arises in the lining cells (epithelium) of the ducts (85 per cent) or lobules (15 per cent) in the glandular tissue of the breast and can affect both men and women. Although females are the most likely to get breast cancer, approximately 0.5 to 1 per cent of breast cancers occur in men. If you notice anything unusual, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.
In addition to self-exams, it’s also important to get regular mammograms starting at age 50 or earlier if there is a family history of breast cancer.
Another important step in reducing the risk of breast cancer is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and staying physically active. Excess body weight and alcohol consumption have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
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Reem BinKaram, Chairperson of PCR Higher Steering Committee: “Proactive self-awareness and knowledge about breast cancer are crucial in the fight against this disease. By regularly conducting self-exams and adhering to the expert guidance of healthcare providers, individuals have the power to detect breast cancer early, increasing their chances of successful treatment. At Pink Caravan Ride, why we are dedicated to travelling across the seven emirates to provide breast cancer screening and raise awareness about this crucial disease.”
It’s also important to limit exposure to known risk factors for breast cancer, such as exposure to radiation and hormone replacement therapy. If taking hormone replacement therapy, people should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits and consider alternatives if possible.
What to avoid
On the other hand, there are also things that everybody should avoid doing if they want to reduce their risk of breast cancer. One of the key things to avoid is exposure to known or suspected carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke and certain chemicals. If one smokes, it’s important to quit as soon as possible, as smoking has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. It’s also important to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and other forms of radiation as these can increase your risk of cancer.
Another thing to avoid is postponing or avoiding getting regular mammograms or other screening tests. Early detection is key when it comes to breast cancer, so it’s important to schedule regular screenings and to follow up on any abnormalities that are detected. Early detection is also the most effective way to reduce breast cancer mortality. In line with the World Health Organisation’s Global Breast Cancer Initiative (GBCI) by reducing mortality by an extra 2.5 per cent per year, it would avert 25 per cent of breast cancer deaths by 2030 and 40 per cent by 2040 among women under 70 years of age.
It’s also important to avoid becoming overly anxious or stressed about breast cancer. While it’s important to be aware of the risks and to take steps to reduce your risk, it’s also important to maintain a sense of perspective and to not become overly worried about something that may or may not happen.
More information about the ride and the initiative from FOCP can be found on their social media platforms @thepinkcaravan.
Do’s for breast cancer prevention
• Be aware of one’s own body, and conduct regular self-exams
• Maintain a healthy lifestyle
• Avoid exposure to known risk factors
• Exposure to known or suspected carcinogens
• Postponing or avoiding getting regular mammograms or other screening tests
• Becoming overly anxious or stressed about breast cancer
Pink Caravan Ride - Day 4
On Tuesday, The ride will journey north towards Umm Al Quwain, with riders starting from UAQ Wall and Fort at 9am, passing by UAQ Hospital, and making a stop at Kite Beach, UAQ at 12pm. After a short break, the pink brigade will begin its second round ride from Hamriyah Fisherman’s Marina at 3pm, visiting places such as Al Hamriyah Ladies Club, before reaching the final venue for the day, Hamriyah Beach, at an estimated arrival time of 5pm.
Pink Caravan Mammogram clinics will be available at the Umm Al Quwain Hospital, while the Daily Minivan Stops will operate at Kite Beach from 12 to 6pm and at Al Hamriyah Ladies Club from 4 to10pm. PCR fixed clinic will offer its services at the Lulu Hypermarket in UAQ Mall from 4pm to 10pm until 10 February.