Breast cancer is the 2nd most frequent cause of death for women in the UAE. A recent study as part of the region's Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, showed that 30% of women suffering from breast cancer had left breast screening too late.
— According to the Ministry of Health, after cardiovascular disease, breast cancer is the 2nd most frequent cause of death for women in the UAE. A recent study as part of the region's Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, showed that 30% of women suffering from breast cancer had left breast screening (mammography) too late, with the result that by the time it was diagnosed, the cancer was already in its later stages, making treatment more difficult and the chances of survival very poor.
The study was published in the official annual report of the Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention (APOCP) in Turkey. It is based on UAE reports and statistics on cancers dating back to 1981. The study also records a substantial increase in the number of cancer cases in the UAE over the past 30 years.
According to Dr Allen Rezai, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and founder of Elite Cosmetic Surgery Group in Dubai, a leading specialist in breast reconstruction surgery, the early diagnosis of breast cancer is vital for treating it successfully and the earlier the diagnosis is made, the better the chance of survival. Although the exact underlying reasons for the development of breast cancer are yet to be found, there are known to be certain factors closely related to its development.
The key risk factors include: gender (women being 100 times more at risk than men), age, family history, genetic factors (cell mutations inherited from parents), race, breast tissue type, menstrual period related factors, and lifestyle factors including those related to the use of hormone treatments, alcohol consumption, late pregnancy, diet, weight and of course smoking.
For those suffering from breast cancer, the most important aspects that should be considered are, firstly, early diagnosis, then selection of appropriate treatments such as mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, followed by the possibilities for breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
Dr Rezai goes on to say that "for some women with breast cancer, mastectomy is the best option, although in many cases this leaves them with psychological problems. Following mastectomy, even though it may save the patient’s life, and in spite of the support they might receive from husband, family and friends, the resulting deformed chest can severely damage a woman’s self- image. Loss of the breast, which is a potent symbol of femininity, can have major psychological consequences. For example, it can affect their relationship with their husband or make entering into future relationships more difficult. She might also feel isolated, which can create a lot of distress not only for the patient but also their family and friends.
"By opting for breast reconstruction, a woman will feel more comfortable and then be able to wear all types of clothing, and also participate in activities of their choice without showing any external signs of her surgery. She will be able to return to an active and productive life, working and providing support to her family and friends, as well as receiving it from them. This is important not only for the breast cancer patients themselves, but also for their families and to society in general," says Dr Rezai.
The study concludes that beside the efforts made by governments to deal with cancer, greater efforts should be made in its prevention through educational campaigns and early detection programmes, both points with which Dr Rezai thoroughly concurs.
Name: Tony Wood
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Organization: Elite Cosmetic Surgery Group
Address: Al Razi Building 64, Block C 4th Floor, Unit 4012 Oud Metha Road, P.O.Box 127610 Dubai Healthcare City, UAE
Phone: +971 44312396
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