x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Tests for women with cancer history

More than a hundred Emirati women with a family history of breast cancer will be chosen for the screening campaign.

DUBAI // Women with a family history of breast cancer are to be screened to see if they have inherited abnormal genes linked to the condition.

The UAE Genetic Diseases Association plans to conduct a survey in partnership with GeneDx, a US company that conducts genetic testing for rare, hereditary disorders.

"The survey will be carried out on 102 Emirati women with a family history of breast cancer," said the association founder and chairwoman Dr Maryam Matar. "We will be taking a swab and tracing their DNA.

"If they are at high risk of carrying the gene that was the main reason for their mother or their cousin to have the cancer, they will be offered an aggressive, preventive approach through a physician.

"You can diagnose the high-risk individuals for breast cancer, a gene was discovered that was related strongly to the development of breast cancer. The screening will start in 2014 under the supervision of GeneDx."

The association is best known for its successful campaign to raise awareness of the genetic disease thalassaemia.

"Our aim is to reduce the prevalence and impact of common genetic disorders in general in the UAE," said Dr Matar. "This is the aim of our association, to make sure that the new generation is healthier than the previous one.

"We started with thalassaemia because it is the most common genetic disease in our country but that doesn't mean we are the thalassaemia association. We have other genetic disorders that we focus on."

Those include sickle-cell anaemia and G6PD deficiency, a genetic blood disorder that occurs across the Arab world.

The association's team includes the Islamic scholar Dr Mohammed Al Olama.

"He makes sure that all our policies and procedures and research are as per Islamic rules and regulations, and are acceptable," said Dr Matar.

"Having him with us has given us big credibility in other Islamic countries, especially Saudi Arabia."

csimpson@thenational.ae

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