x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Women fail to take heed of breast cancer warnings

A health official in Sharjah urges women to go for free screenings as many fail to take notice of repeated warnings.

SHARJAH // Women at risk of breast cancer are failing to heed repeated messages to go for regular screenings, health bosses said yesterday. As a result, cases of the disease are going undetected, according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Saqr Al Qassimi, the head of Sharjah Medical Zone. He urged middle-aged women to immediately go for free screenings.

"Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women in the UAE, yet not many people are aware of its severity," said Sheikh Mohammed. "That's why fewer women have turned up for regular screening and attach less importance to its treatment and prevention. "For all the women of this country, I have one message for you - if you are 40, go for breast cancer screening. It's free." Traditionally, breast cancer has been a taboo subject among Emiratis, which has led to many late diagnoses and unnecessary deaths.

Sharjah's Maternal and Child Care Centre screened 1,631 women last year, of whom 15 were diagnosed with breast cancer. Since its inception in August 2006, the centre has screened 4,518 women out of which 50 were found to have the disease. Dr Hessah al Ghazal, the centre's director, said breast cancer was the deadliest cancer among women. "Early detection and treatment would save most women's lives," she said.

"We want all women to know we have no bureaucracies in screening. All women over 40 should come directly to us for screening, and those who are 35 who have cases of cancer in their family." The centre offers women a "triple assessment" - a manual examination of the breast, a mammogram or ultrasound scan to check the tissue, and a biopsy to examine the cells. "The three different tests are done because not every technique can pick up every kind of breast cancer effectively," said Dr al Ghazal.

ykakande@thenational.ae