x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Doctors urged to join Pink Caravan tour to raise awareness of breast cancer

The 11-day horseback tour will reach the most remote regions and cities in the UAE to raise money for breast cancer research.

ABU DHABI // Doctors are being urged to join a nationwide breast cancer awareness tour and help in the fight against the UAE’s second-biggest killer of women.

The Pink Caravan’s 11-day horseback ride, which will visit remote regions and cities to raise funds for research, begins next month.

The annual tour highlights the importance of early detection and regular self-examination and organisers are asking medical professionals to take part.

“We encourage Emirati doctors and medical professionals to participate in large numbers in the campaign,” said Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, head of the Pink Caravan’s medical and awareness committee.

“Such participation will lead to many more citizens, especially those in the emirates’ far-flung areas, being covered by the initiative.”

The fourth tour will start in Sharjah on February 15, then visit Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman. It will then travel through Sharjah to Dubai and Al Ain before finishing in the capital on February 25.

The pink riders will escort mobile detection clinics so experts can conduct on-the-spot exams and screenings.

Health professionals will try to dispel myths and stigma surrounding breast cancer and highlight the high success rate of beating the disease if it is caught early on.

Breast cancer has four stages of severity defined by the prevalence and size of the lymph nodes and tumours. If caught at stage one, the chance of survival is between 95 and 100 per cent.

“With 95 per cent of breast cancer cases curable upon early detection, we cannot afford to underplay the need for early testing,” Dr Al Madhi said.

Since its launch in 2011, Pink Caravan teams have screened 22,877 people, including 5,450 men, and covered more than 900 kilometres across the seven emirates, with more than 250 riders and 200 volunteers taking part to date.

The initiative has been paying off. Last year, only 16 per cent of cases in Abu Dhabi were diagnosed at a late stage compared with 64 per cent in 2007, meaning women in the emirate have a better chance than ever of surviving breast cancer.

“Three years and thousands of free screenings later this ride, which started as a novel concept for breast cancer awareness, has proved its efficacy,” Dr Al Madhi said.

“The ride’s 2014 edition is all set to go to the next level with the participation of leading international cancer organisations and globally recognised public figures.

Despite the work of the Pink Caravan, an initiative by the Friends of Cancer Patients charity, breast cancer is still the second biggest killer of women in the UAE, after cardiovascular disease.

There were 54 deaths in Abu Dhabi last year, the youngest only 24. Half the women found to have breast cancer were between 49 and 54.

To volunteer in the Pink Caravan tour, call 06 5065547 or 06 5065543, or email awareness@pinkcaravan.ae.

jbell@thenational.ae