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Posted On: 18 January 2014 01:41 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Expert calls for more breast cancer awareness drives

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A senior expert has called for more campaigns to raise awareness about breast cancer in Qatar.

An increasing number of women in Qatar are being diagnosed with breast cancer at an advanced stage, according to Dr Salahaddin Gehani, general surgery and breast cancer consultant at Hamad Medical Corporation.

“More than 160 women were diagnosed with the disease in 2012 and many of them were discovered in late stages,” Gehani told Gulf Times, while pointing out that the key to survival was early detection and treatment.

Screening for breast cancer has been shown to reduce mortality by 30%.

“Many cases of breast cancer in Qatar are diagnosed at a more advanced stage. Outcomes are most certainly improved when a diagnosis is made at an early stage and therefore public campaigning to raise awareness of breast cancer, it signs and symptoms and the call to action is desperately required,” Gehani said.

With better understanding and knowledge individuals will better know what to look for and how to behave if a sign or symptom is discovered. There are no major risk factors specific to breast cancer except being female, getting older and where there is a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

“Healthy living, including not smoking, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight will help reduce the risks of all cancers and this applies to breast cancer as well. However, women who have had close relatives who had either breast or ovarian cancer at the age of 50 or under should let their doctor know and they will be followed more carefully,” he said.

He said that a new clinic had recently opened for those with a family history of breast cancer. A genetic counsellor will determine if they need special genetic testing.

“Most cancers are likely to occur in the older age group. Globally, breast cancer usually affects women of 50 years of age and above. However, in the Middle East, there is some evidence to suggest that women may be at risk from a slightly younger age, for example from the age of 40,” he said.

Though cancer can affect people from all races and backgrounds, some population groups experience more aggressive cancers than others.

“The reason for this is currently being researched internationally and we are currently studying this in Qatar in joint projects between HMC and Weill Cornell.”

All treatments that are recommended internationally are available in Qatar including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments.

“All treatments are discussed by a team of specialists to ensure the patient is offered the most appropriate treatment for them, based on the latest research and the internationally agreed recommendations for that disease,” he said.

Gehani suggested that all women over the age of 45 in Qatar should have a mammogram annually. Mammogram is the process of using low-energy X-rays to screen the breasts for detecting breast cancer early.

“Those with a family history of the disease may need to start annual mammograms earlier. People should consult their family doctor who will advise them as to when they should start their breast screening,” he advised.

Speaking about survival rate among those who have suffered breast cancer in Qatar, he maintained that there were no accurate figures yet as many patients returned to their home countries.

“Survival rates of breast cancer are measured internationally and are showing dramatic improvements,” he added.