With an endless list of daily obligations and priorities, it is not that difficult to get swept up in life and neglect self-care
24 September 2019| Last updated on 7 October 2019
Health should always be your number one priority. If you are a woman, this is really for you.
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women around the world, and its magnitude is high, particularly in developing countries where the majority of cases are unfortunately diagnosed in late stages. Regretfully true, the UAE is no exception; breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women according to the Ministry of Health and Prevention. Constituting a significant public health concern in the UAE and with Arab nationals developing breast cancer earlier than in western nations, comprehensive and intense public awareness and educational campaigns across the whole country have been fervently launched to increase awareness about the importance of breast cancer screening practices and its fundamental role in the early detection of this daunting disease.
Despite knowing that screening is fundamental for health and early detection of breast cancer, so many UAE female residents refrain from it due to several factors, and the most notable are cultural sensitivities, the associating costs, and the emotional self-denial related to the disease. It is not uncommon for many women to experience a mixture of contradicting feelings: dread of being diagnosed with cancer and a false sense of security; “What if it turns out that I do have cancer?” and “I am feeling perfectly fine. It may affect other women, but not me!”
Also of importance, many women have various concerns about the world's most effective method of screening for breast cancer: Screening Mammograms. Here we expose some of the most popular myths related to screening mammograms to encourage all women above 40 years of age to take this positive step and be more proactive in protecting their health and well-being:
Myth 1: Mammograms emits a dangerous amount of radiation.
Fact: Despite all concerns about radiation levels, the simple truth is that screening mammograms utilize very low doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this amount of radiation exposure is extremely low, compared with the lifetime risk of breast cancer (about one in 4 of all new cancer cases diagnosed in women worldwide are breast cancer according to the global cancer data released by WHO in 2018). Beyond doubt, the benefits profoundly outweigh the risks.
Myth 2: Mammograms are ineffective.
Fact: Worldwide, screening mammograms are the gold standard for the early detection of breast cancer. Proven by a myriad of studies, it is the appropriate screening tool for breast cancer. Screening mammograms can detect small breast lumps before symptoms appear, and before a woman or her doctor can feel them during self-exam or clinical examination.
Myth 3: Mammograms are so painful; I would rather not go for it.
Fact: Screening mammogram is a fast procedure (20-30 minutes). Some women may feel uncomfortable because of the pressure of the device's plates on their breasts, but for the majority, it is not painful. Think positively, this possible temporary discomfort ultimately benefits you significantly. Screening mammograms can save lives!
Myth 4: Mammograms are not cost-effective.
Fact: On the contrary, what is not cost-effective for women is to neglect their health and bear the risk of finding an advanced-stage breast cancer! Now that is something to reflect upon when it comes to real health investment.
Myth 5: There is no family history of breast cancer, so I do not need it.
Fact: There is no single definite reason for having breast cancer. Various risk factors can affect any woman's chances of getting breast cancer, with positive family history being just one of these risk factors.
Myth 6: I can rely on breast self-examination instead.
Fact: Women are encouraged to conduct routine breast self-exams; an acceptable practice that can be done regularly and at any age. The more you examine your breasts, the more you familiarize yourself with how they look and feel, and the easier it will become for you to notice if something is amiss. However, it cannot be a replacement for a screening mammogram which can detect early breast changes in women who have no noticeable breast abnormalities or any other symptoms or signs suspicious of cancer.
Screening mammograms are essential for the early detection of breast cancer. Give your health the priority it deserves and dedicate time to discuss with your trusted doctor the approach to breast cancer screening that is suitable for you. Factors that can influence that approach include age, medical history, and family history. Your doctor will be able to explain all the benefits, risks and limitations of screening tools, including screening mammograms, and help you decide what is best for you based on your individual health needs.
The Dubai London Clinic and Speciality Hospital is dedicated to delivering reader-friendly and comprehensive educational information on breast health. We strive to spread the message of how important early detection of breast cancer is for improving outcomes, and to empower women with all the useful information for a healthy living. Share this to support our endeavours to reach more women during this breast cancer awareness month.