Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Egyptian oncologists stress need for early detection, spreading awareness

Ingy Deif, Monday 31 Oct 2022

In a seminar held in mid-October as part of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Egyptian professors of oncology discussed progress in treatments in the fight against the disease that accounts for more than one third of cancer cases in Egypt.

Breast cancer conference in Cairo


During the seminar, held in cooperation with the private sector’s pharmaceutical Company MSD, experts reviewed issues such as the suffering of patients, spreading awareness, diagnosis, methods of treatment, the psychological factor, and the role of media in advocating for the cause of fighting breast cancer.

They also shed light on government efforts and initiatives which led to significant improvements in the protocols of cancer treatment.

Hamdy Abdel-Azim, professor of oncology and chairman of the National Committee of the Presidential Initiative for Women’s Health, said the government wants to provide care and treatment to prevent and treat cancer, particularly the types that affect women, like uterine and breast cancer.

He pointed out that the recovery rates of women with breast cancer in Egypt have improved significantly, and early detection of breast tumours among women has risen by 70.5 percent thanks to the efforts of the presidential initiative in the past two years, particularly the initiatives focused on the health of women and newborns that were launched in July 2019.

The initiatives aim to provide early detection services and free treatment for breast tumours, non-communicable diseases, and reproductive diseases.

Abdel-Azim added that the government is keen on holding various partnerships with different authorities in Egypt to provide medical care and drugs that have proven effective in treating those diseases, including recently approved treatments that increase the ability of the immune system to attack tumours and decrease the severity and side effects of chemotherapy.

Alaa Kandil, professor of oncology and member of the Presidential Committee’s Supreme Council for Women's Health, stressed the need for the early detection of breast tumours and spoke about the importance of mental health during the stages of treatment.

Mohsen Mokhtar, professor of the Oncology Department at Cairo University, said that breast cancer treatment can be effective in case of early detection, pointing out that the treatment can include surgery and radiotherapy to control the disease in the breast, lymph nodes, and surrounding areas.

Hormonal drugs are the latest trend in cancer treatments, he noted, stressing that the correct and effective treatment achieves survival odds of 90 percent or more.

The panel shed light on recent statistics that point that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer, with more than 2.2 million cases recorded worldwide in 2020, according to WHO.

In Egypt, breast cancer accounts for up to 33 percent of all cancer cases, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Baheya Cancer Foundation statistics for 2021 indicate that more than 22,000 new cases are diagnosed each year all over the country.

The panel concluded the seminar by stressing the importance of spreading a word of optimism when it comes to the progress attained by the presidential health campaigns for women and the importance of early detection.

"We cannot knock on the doors of people to tell them that our protocols are as good as those of the UK and that they have to focus on early detection. This is the role of the media," Abdel-Azim said.

Organising events and campaigns that focus on the multifaceted experience that breast cancer patients and their relatives deal with has become a tradition since the American Cancer Society designated October as Breast Cancer Month in 1985, then it was passed on as an annual date to shed light on the issue all over the world.

These events help reaching more and more women, spreading awareness and shedding light on stories of bravery that bring hope to those facing the long journey of treatment.

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