Awareness and Screening: Key to Lowering MENA Breast Cancer Mortality
Breast cancer is by far the most common form of cancer across the Middle East and North Africa. It’s twice as common as the next cause – prostate cancer. Breast cancer also has the highest rate of mortality of any cancer in the region, higher even than second-place lung cancer. So raising awareness of the disease and increasing screenings is key to combating this disease.
This was reinforced in a 2013 study out of Qatar that identified a handful of mechanisms to increase breast cancer screening in the region as an important way to bring down mortality rates.
These findings reinforce the importance of why Breast Cancer Awareness Month, held every October across the globe, is so important: improving outcomes is all about catching the disease earlier. Lots of organizations provide information and advice, both internationally and regionally, and local health ministries are working hard to get the word out – from Saudi Arabia to Jordan to Qatar.
Regular breast cancer screening is one of the most important ways to diagnose the disease at an earlier stage. There are several ways to check for breast cancer and breast cancer symptoms – including a self examination, clinical breast exam, mammogram or breast MRI.
All major medical organizations agree that women between the ages of 50-74 should at a minimum have a screening mammogram at least every two years, complemented by a physician’s consultation. Women at higher risk should be screened at a younger age and more often than other women.
While lifestyle issues such lack of exercise and obesity are breast cancer risk factors and potential causes of breast cancer, among the most significant risk factors not associated with lifestyle, include dense breast tissue, with women in this category having a four to five times higher risk of developing breast cancer than other women.
GE works all year round to help local practitioners address all types of cancer, including breast cancer. For example, earlier this year, GE Healthcare teamed up with the American College of Radiology (ACR) and King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center to bring the region’s first-ever ACR-led “Breast Imaging Boot Camp.” Held in May, it provided up to 40 practicing radiologists in Saudi Arabia and wider Middle East with an intensive hands-on experience in mammography and breast ultrasonography.