Abu Dhabi: A recent survey conducted by Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) in the UAE revealed concerning statistics about breast cancer screenings and awareness.
The survey, conducted on over 400 women aged 40 and above, 88 per cent expressed a desire for greater control over their health, with only 66 per cent reported regularly following their doctor’s recommended check-ups.
Shockingly, 34 per cent had never booked a mammogram, with this number rising to 46 per cent in Sharjah.
Dr. Aisha Alsalami, a consultant medical oncologist at SSMC, emphasised the need for a course correction — in attitudes towards screenings, underlining the crucial role of early detection in improving survival rates.
Breast cancer is a significant concern in the UAE, accounting for almost half of cancer cases diagnosed in women. Early detection can increase the survival rate to an estimated 98 per cent.
“Given the insights we’ve gained over the years, SSMC now has a dedicated all-female team to enhance patient comfort for women undergoing tests and breast cancer screenings,” said Dr. Alsalami.
As part of its commitment to offering world-class care, SSMC also houses the latest diagnostic technologies and treatment techniques such as AI-powered pathology for more accurate diagnosis and state-of-the-art radio oncology equipment for improved outcomes, she said.
To better understand how women perceive regular screenings, the survey also assessed the frequency at which women book services such as beauty appointments (e.g. nails/ hair/ facial/ massage etc.), holidays or staycations, car services, in comparison to medical check-ups such as a mammogram and routine physical examinations.
Among the findings:
• For 37% of women, the decision to book a beauty service takes up to a couple of hours. In contrast, 25% of women take the same period of time to book a mammogram.
• However, for 47% of them, the decision to book a mammogram can take a couple of months or more.
• 68% of women undergo beauty services that last anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. Yet, a mammogram only takes 30 minutes on average.
• Single and married couples with no children undergo more routine checkups as compared to married women with children.
• Nearly 55% spend a couple of months or more planning vacations. Meanwhile, 66% book a car service at least once a year, while one in five schedules it every 2-3 months. In contrast, 34% have never booked a mammogram.
• Most women said they are likely to remind a female friend or a family member to get a health check-up such as a mammogram – but a third of them have never had a mammogram themselves.
In a similar study conducted last year, SSMC found that lack of awareness, cultural beliefs, stigma in addition to fear, anxiety and privacy concerns often impede women from seeking timely diagnosis.
In an effort to raise awareness and promote early detection, SSMC initiated the “Your Health Deserves” breast cancer awareness campaign in October.
The hospital partnered with organisations like Pink Caravan and Abu Dhabi Ladies Club to provide free check-ups and engage the public on breast cancer prevention. They also offer a support group for patients and their families, focusing on their unique experiences and well-being.
Dr. Abdulqader Almessabi, deputy chief medical officer at SSMC, emphasized the hospital’s commitment to enhancing community well-being through health literacy and compassionate care.
Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) is a prominent healthcare facility in the UAE, providing specialized care through a partnership between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and Mayo Clinic.