October is marked as Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the aim of raising awareness for a disease which impacts approximately 1 in 8 women. While you may enjoy all the pink desserts and treats around you this month, the underlying cause behind all those refreshingly pink treats is to push women to take their health seriously and never ignore the importance of regular self-check-ups for breast cancer. A dedicated month focusing on this cause sees many hospitals come up with special campaigns and activities for women to be more aware of their health and a disease, people are still not very comfortable talking about.
This month, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have brought together the most important things, a woman needs to know. From the significance of the awareness campaign and tips on self-check-ups, to the latest developments in the medical field and different activities being run by hospitals throughout October, the feature aims to contribute to the cause by spreading awareness among our readers.
The significance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The month long campaign and initiative is very signifcant and offers great support to a host of people, including sufferers and survivors of breast cancer and their familes, as well as updating non-surfers on topics such as self-check-ups and early detection.
Spread education and awareness
With a month dedicated to a cause, it definitely help's generate more awareness and at the same time reduces many myths around it. Experts at HealthBay Polyclinic said, “The good news is that most women can be cured if their disease is diagnosed at an early stage. This means that public health strategies aiming to improve early cancer detection, such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, can potentially lead to a higher number of women surviving their cancer. There are two components of early cancer detection efforts: education and screening.”
“By encouraging women to undergo screening and raising awareness about signs and symptoms of breast cancer and the importance of taking prompt action, we are aiming to see more and more women diagnosed with early-stage and highly curable breast cancer.”
Help patients overcome their fears
Dr. Pranay Girdhari Taori, Specialist Medical Oncologist, Zulekha Hospital Dubai said, “Most corporations observe the full month with activities, corporate talks for awareness and engaging survivors through survivors forums. Our cancer survivors and patients support group meeting “Pink Knights” is being hosted every quarter where survivors and patients share their positive experiences and motivate others undergoing the same. The forum gives an opportunity for clarification of any doubts in minds of patients and discuss inhibitions openly, thereby overcoming any fears they have.”
Gives patients the ability to approach their doctors
Dr. Bhawna Rathi, Specialist Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aster Clinic said, “Having a whole month of the year dedicated solely to breast cancer awareness goes a long way in spreading knowledge, firstly, about the disease itself, and secondly, about the ways in which it can be detected and combated. Furthermore, the Breast Cancer Awareness Month gives patients the ability to approach their doctors with questions, concerns, and doubts, about the disease itself. And lastly, spreading awareness about breast cancer also helps in dismantling a lot of myths and false information about the disease.”
The tests to detect breast cancer early
There are 3 primary tests that people can carry out in order to help with the early detection of breast cancer. These include:
Dr Ilaria Saredi, Family Medicine Specialist at Allied Medical Center , "Early detection is important for a good recovery. We suggest regular self breast examinations by patients - at least once every month - to be able to determine what their breasts feel like in normal conditions, and if anything new appears, consult with their doctor. Their doctor will clinically examine them and determine whether there is a need for a breast ultrasound or mammogram. Some patients may also need a breast MRI."
Clinical breast examination
Dr. Bhawna Rathi of Aster said, "In this case your physician is the one who examines your breast for any changes and lumps.”
Dr. Bhawna Rathi of Aster said, “A mammogram is an x-ray that screens the breast tissue in order to highlight any areas of suspicion or abnormality. The breast is exposed to a small dose of iodizing radiation that produces an image of the breast tissue. Mammograms can often show a breast lump before it can be felt. They also can show tiny clusters of calcium called micro calcifications. Regular, yearly mammograms are suggested, for women especially, who are 40 and above. Since their risk for breast cancer increases with age.”
Recent developments in breast cancer treatments
Thanks to advancements in the medical field, the introduction of new treatments for breast cancer has increased the recovery and survival rates. Treatments include:
Dr Ilaria Saredi of Allied Medical Center said, “Early detection gives great benefits in terms of therapy results. New breast cancer treatments include hormonal therapy in hormone-receptive cancers, as well as minimally invasive surgery with new breast reconstruction techniques. We look forward to future progress in these areas as breast cancer research intensifies and provides new therapy opportunities."
Dr. Pranay Girdhari Taori of Zulekha Hospital Dubai said, “If the breast cancer is detected at an early stage, patient can undergo lumpectomy instead of complete removal of breast. Postsurgical morbidity has also decreased.”
Introduction of good anti emetic agents
Dr. Pranay Girdhari Taori of Zulekha Hospital Dubai said, “In last decades better chemotherapy agents, monoclonal antibodies and so called targeted therapy has come in a big way to improve survival. With introduction of good anti emetic agents, emesis post chemotherapy has come down. Post chemotherapy infections has been well taken care by growth factors and good antibiotics. Now chemotherapy is no more a dreaded experience as thought in past.”
Experts at HealthBay Polyclinic commented, “In hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, the combination of endocrine therapy with a class of medications, known as CDK4/6 inhibitors resulted in unprecedented survival rates in the metastatic setting either when used as front-line or as second-line therapy. These drugs are also being investigated as adjuvant therapy for early-stage disease and if these studies show similar benefit, then this will represent a treatment revolution for this subtype of breast cancer.”
Genomic expression profiling
“Another breakthrough in early-stage, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer is the use of genomic expression profiling (GEP) tests such as Oncotype DX or MammaPrint, among others, to decide whether women can safely be spared adjuvant chemotherapy. For these women, endocrine therapy alone would lead to excellent outcome,” commented experts at HealthBay Polyclinic.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities
From free consultations to social media campaigns and coffee sessions, hospitals come up with different ideas and activities this month to spread awareness. Dr. Pranay Girdhari Taori of Zulekha Hospital Dubai said, “‘Pink it Now’ is our flagship CSR campaign on breast cancer awareness and has been on since 2012. The campaign offers free screenings for over two months. The objective of the campaign is to raise awareness about early detection and prevention of breast cancer. Over 7,600 women visited Zulekha Hospital since 2012 to avail their free specialist consultations and mammograms. More information can be obtained on pinkitnow.zulekhahospitals.com.”
Experts at HealthBay Polyclinic commented, “HealthBay Polyclinic is launching ‘Fighters in Pink” campaign with an initiative to help raise awareness on breast cancer and offer support to those affected by it. This also includes distribution of educational material about breast health and breast self-exams.” “We are offering women an opportunity to book their screening imaging studies with our Breast Radiologist Dr. Kinda Douaidari and receive a 50% discount during the entire month of October. Consultation with Consultant Breast Surgeon, Dr. Paul Sayad and Consultant Breast Oncologist Dr. Joyce Habib, will also be eligible for the same discount during the month of October.”
Dr. Bhawna Rathi of Aster said, “As with every year, this year as well Aster Clinic will be undertaking a number of initiatives aimed at spreading awareness about breast cancer and its early detection.
• A 50% discount on mammogram, on the doctor’s recommendation
• Across our clinics, we will be conducting self, breast examination trainings for free. These training sessions will be led by our experienced doctors and nursing staff.
• Our doctors will be undertaking health talks in their respective communities, as well as in corporates. These health talks will focus on early detection, self-breast examination, and the medical options available if a patient gets diagnosed with breast cancer.” Dr Ilaria Saredi of Allied Medical Center said, “Allied Medical Center is honoured to be the Title Sponsor of the 2018 Pink Ladies Games and believe that breast health should be part of every woman’s lifestyle. There will be weekly competitions on our Facebook and Instagram pages where followers stand a chance to win free breast screening.”
“Waterproof breast self-assessment shower cards will be handed out during the month of October within our clinic. We will be having coffee mornings during the month of October to educate women on the importance of breast screening and teach them how to do breast self-assessments correctly.”