The Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) concluded 2016 by celebrating on 27 December the establishing of the first-ever training programme in Egypt to offer psychosocial support to breast cancer patients and their families.
The occasion took place at the headquarters of Baheya Hospital, the only hospital in Egypt and the Middle East dedicated to providing free treatment for women with breast cancer.
The training programme was a cooperative effort between Baheya, the ERC and the private sector's Novartis.
The occasion hailed the efforts of 20 volunteers who were the first to undergo training launched in April 2016 in how to motivate patients to undergo treatment. The programme was also hailed for providing in-hospital entertainment to improve patients' morale.
Dr Moemena Kamel, the ERC's secretary-general, emphasised that this programme is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, stressing that research showed that high morale helps cut mortality rates by 50 percent in cancer cases.
The importance of enhancing psychosocial support for cancer patients in Egypt was further emphasised by Dr Ahmed Hassan Abdel-Aziz, head of the Oncology Division at Baheya Hospital.
“Psychological support for breast cancer patients – which affects one in eight women in Egypt – is a step towards drastically improving treatment outcomes. Studies have shown that around 30 percent of patients suffer from depression, causing them to refuse or delay treatment, thereby raising mortality rates," he said.
Since its inauguration in February 2015, the hospital has served more than 18,000 women, performing 14,100 mammograms and 12,275 surgical procedures.
The number of patients undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital has surpassed 1,200, and more than 450 patients have received radiation therapy.
Baheya is also equipped with a research lab dedicated to studying and analysing the reasons behind the prevalence of breast cancer in Egypt and the region, hoping to occupy a leading role in containing the disease.
The national cancer registry in Egypt showed at the end of 2014 that cancer incidents in the country reached 113 new cases for every 100,000 citizens every year.
For males, at the top of the list came liver cancer -- due to the prevalence of hepatitis C -- with 39 cases for every 100,000 person annually, followed by cancer of the bladder, lungs, lymph glands, and prostate, respectively.
For women, breast cancer came on top, with 35 cases per 100,000, followed by cancer of the liver, ovaries, and lymph glands, respectively.