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Oncologist urges screenings for breast cancer genes

 High-risk individuals like those genetically tested for BRCA mutations must go for annual screenings as well as for bi-annual or semi-annual doctor consultations for the early arrest of cancers.

Oncologist Dr Tarek Al Khoury told newsmen on Monday in Dubai: “BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 have been proven to cause breast cancer and ovarian cancer among women as well as prostate and pancreatic cancer for men.”

He recommended the strict observation of the periodic tests and consultations for the age 35 and up, particularly for those who have been previously screened for lump(s) in the breast(s) and those with “strong family history of breast cancer” especially among first and second-degree relatives.  

Al Khoury said these are the internationally-accepted and UAE-approved guidelines in order to avoid the severity of the illness including the complex means of treatments and medications even if there have been improvements in these areas. 

He echoed the World Health Organisation (WHO) stand on abating the disease: “Early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcomes and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.”

Al Khoury was interviewed on the sidelines of the 2016 launch of the annual “Pink It Now” breast cancer awareness campaign of the Zulekha Hospitals, inaugurated through the striking of the gong by UAE Minister of Tolerance Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi and Zulekha Healthcare Group chairperson Dr Zulekha Daud at Conrad Hotel. Asked for the increasing number of breast cancer cases, he attributed this to the growing public awareness leading to the positive action among women to go for early detection programmes. 

According to the WHO World Cancer Report, there were 568 breast cancer incidences in the UAE in 2012.

At the launch, breast cancer survivors Umaima Tinwala, Dikrayat Saleh and Jenny Holliday said women should not be complacent about health.

They said that just as having the thought of being sick with the leading cause of death among cancer patients is detestable, it is best to remain positive and strong through it all and in the midst of a supportive community.

According to the WHO, “Breast cancer is the top cancer in women worldwide and is increasing particularly in developing countries, the majority of cases of which are diagnosed in late stages.” 

Tinwala also said that one of the lessons she had learnt through her tribulation is that while she is a journalist who has to be in all kinds of gathering and functions for news coverage and interviews, “being bald is empowering, it is a sign that I have taken control of my illness, (that) I have reclaimed my strength.”

Al Qasimi said: “The Pink It Now campaign highlights the need for the continued education and access to specialist training options. It underlines the hospital’s steadfast commitment to helping address the healthcare needs of patients and their families within the community.”

She also acknowledged the efforts of Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah; founder and royal patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients, International Ambassador for the World Cancer Declaration of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for the UICC and patron of the Global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Alliance Forum, and her “pioneering role in spearheading Sharjah’s and the UAE’s ongoing battle against cancer and other NCDs.”

For the October to December duration of the campaign, women are encouraged to take advantage of the free specialist consultation and mammogramme at any of the two hospitals in Dubai and Sharjah through