x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Free breast screenings offered

Doctors at the country's leading cancer hospital plan awareness campaign to diagnose cancer in its early stages.

ABU DHABI // Breast cancer must not be allowed to be a taboo subject, doctors said yesterday as they announced an awareness campaign that will offer free screenings to all women older than 40. The UAE's leading cancer hospital, Tawam in Al Ain, aims to raise awareness of the disease throughout October.

It has lined up events that include a fun run and a "pink day," when people will be encouraged to wear the colour in support of breast cancer sufferers, and will focus on Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the more remote areas of the emirate. This year, mammograms were made mandatory for all Emirati women between 40 and 69, who now must have one to renew their Thiqa cards, which allow Emiratis free health care.

Next month, that screening programme will become available to all women over 40 who live in the UAE, free of charge. The Tawam Hospital Mobile Mammography Van will go on tour throughout the emirate. Breast cancer is the second most deadly cancer after lung cancer in the UAE. It accounts for 28 per cent of all female deaths. According to Health Authority - Abu Dhabi, the disease will affect one in every eight women. It accounts for 22 per cent of all the UAE's cancer cases.

But the doctors said the earlier it was diagnosed, the higher a woman's chance of survival, which made awareness such an important part of the public health strategy. "Breast cancer should not and will not be a taboo in our community," said Dr Shamsa al Awar, the chairwoman of the Tawam Breast Cancer Awareness Committee. "This is why our campaign targets and encourages every woman, man and child in our society to learn more about the disease and how to detect it.

"Early detection of breast cancer is crucial for successful treatment." amcmeans@thenational.ae