Women across the United Arab Emirates delayed vital breast cancer screening during the COVID-19 pandemic in a “concerning phenomenon” that led to aspike in cases across the country, doctors have said.
October marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and experts are reminding that early detection brings a higher chance of recovery.
Breast cancer has four stages and catching it at the first stage means the chance of survival is between 95 and 100 percent.
However, doctors in the UAE said screening is well below pre-pandemic levels as women missed routine appointments and avoided health settings over the fear of COVID-19 meaning they missed vital lifesaving treatment.
Prof. Humaid al-Shamsi, a consultant in oncology and medical oncology director at VPS Healthcare, has noticed an increase in breast cancer cases across the UAE as a result.
“October, also known as Pink Month, is the month to increase awareness about breast cancer, which is one of the most common cancers worldwide,” he told Al Arabiya English.
“Since the pandemic, we are noticing an increase in the number of patients presenting with breast cancer. This means they are delaying their visit to the doctor over fears about COVID-19.
Dr Sader al-Rawi, head of oncology services at VPS Healthcare, said surgery is an important part of breast cancer treatment.
“These days, resection is not the only procedure that is performed. The standard of care is oncoplastic breast surgery, through which the breast can be reshaped.”
“There are other modalities of breast surgery including nipple-sparing and skin-sparing, which are done to add an implant or tissue expander after surgery. Finally, there is the reconstruction that includes muscle or tissue transfer.”
”It is very important to be meticulous with breast surgery to avoid any complications including infection, lymphedema, and recurrence of the tumor.”
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