Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 25, 2020: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) recently organized a webinar on breast cancer awareness.
The webinar covered several topics including latest research, trends and the importance of early detection.
As part of the month-long initiatives to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place every year in October, the Authority is providing free mammogram checks for women in governmental institutions in the Emirate who fulfil the needed criteria.
The aim of this initiative is to promote early detection and educate women about the importance of regular breast examinations.
Those eligible for the free mammogram examination are women between the age group of 40 to 65 years. Women who have not had a mammogram in the last two years or have a strong history of breast or ovarian cancer (first-degree relatives regardless of age) or they have had a history of any other type of cancer and are above 40 years.
During the webinar, doctors discussed the importance of early detection.
Dr Moaza Al Bedwawi, General Surgeon at Dubai Hospital and Founder of Pink Ride Hope said: “I strongly advocate the importance of early detection especially for women who have a family history of cancer or have other high-risk factors. Preemptive regular check-ups are essential to detect cancer early on.
“With early diagnosis the chances of survival and minimum intervention greatly increase; we do not have to adopt aggressive therapies straight away. Even in case of surgery, early detection helps us plan the breast reconstruction and nipple preservation procedure in a much better manner.”
Dr. Hend Al Awadhi, Head of Health Promotion and Education Section in DHA's Public Health Protection Department said: “Despite the increase in awareness levels, we still see patients who get themselves screened later on, by that time they are already in stage two or three of the disease. We want to completely eliminate this and therefore there is an ongoing need to continue such sustained awareness campaigns.”
The webinar also discussed modifiable and unmodifiable risk factors.
Dr Awadhi said that risk factors, which cannot be changed, include getting older, genetic mutations, reproductive history which means early menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55 as these factors expose women to hormones longer, raising their risk of getting breast cancer.
Al Awadhi said women who have had breast cancer are more likely to get breast cancer again and therefore regular check-ups are important to check their cancer-free status from time-to-time.
Al Awadhi said a woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree relative) with a history of breast or ovarian cancer.
Al Awadhi said that women who fall under the high-risk category must ensure they go for regular follow-ups and opt for early detection.
She added that all women should follow the breast examination schedule with their doctors and that modifiable risk factors should be prioritized as these are changes that can help prevent the onset of cancer as well as other lifestyle diseases.
“Tobacco cessation, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet are steps that all women should take to protect again a host of diseases including cancer. In the last decade, the emergence of non-communicable diseases has greatly increased and lifestyle modifications are undoubtedly needed. However, it is important to note that women who follow a healthy lifestyle and exercise pattern also need to ensure they opt for regular check-ups and age-appropriate breast-cancer check-ups as this is not something that can be avoided.”
She added that women should prioritize their health and wellbeing and opt for regular health checks.
She emphasized on the importance of habits and routine in terms of exercise and healthy eating. “I would urge women to look into their daily habits and eating pattern. Are they getting 30 minutes of exercise per day? Are they planning healthy meals in advance? Are they eating healthy and eating on time at least 80 per cent of the time? What about sleep? Are they getting enough sleep per night? If not, they need to reflect on ways they can make daily lifestyle changes to help create a more healthy and balanced approach to daily living. I would go as far and say that they might need to cut out on unimportant activities to make time for these lifestyle changes. After all, health and wellbeing is precious.”