Study: Need to Strengthen Breast Cancer Awareness in UAE
A recent YouGov survey undertaken by leading global health insurance provider Aetna International found that 43% of women in the UAE said they have never taken steps to check for breast cancer. The results demonstrate the need to strengthen awareness for women of all ages in the UAE to undertake regular checks and screenings.
The research also identified how the fear of seeking medical help can even contribute to a late diagnosis of breast cancer. Almost a third (30%) of women said they were too scared to see a doctor even if they suspected they might have breast cancer and almost a quarter (22%) said they would feel that they would probably be worrying about nothing. Busy lifestyles are also a key factor leading to late diagnosis, with 13% of respondents saying that they would be too busy to make a doctor’s appointment.
“If you’re nervous about getting a mammogram or other screening, that’s understandable,” says vHealth Medical Director and Consultant in Family Medicine, Dr. Nairah Rasul-Syed. “I recommend having a general chat with your doctor first to discuss any health risks and to decide if any tests need to be done.”
Breast Cancer Screenings
In the UAE, the National Guidelines for Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis recommend all healthy women should be screened between the ages 40-69 years every two years. If a woman is at high risk, for example, a strong family history of breast cancer, she should see her doctor as she may require breast screening at an earlier age than normal and more frequently than usual.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
Despite the growing number of campaigns to increase awareness, the importance of replacing myths about breast cancer was underlined by Aetna International’s research. Over half (52%) of the women surveyed believe that wearing a brassiere that is too tight can be a cause of breast cancer, while 36% believe that the use of aerosols, deodorants, and smoking shisha may also be contributing factors. Furthermore, some women (13%) think the use of microwaves and cell phones (10%) are also linked to suffering from breast cancer.
In reality, the biggest risk factors in breast cancer are increasing age (especially over the age of 50 years), obesity, excess alcohol, family history, and genetics, among others.
The research also highlighted that 40% of women were not aware of whether cancer treatment, in general, was covered in their health insurance policy.
“As Breast Cancer Awareness month draws to a close, we urge people to think seriously about this, to look out for any signs and to check what their policy covers – especially if there is history of cancer in the family,” said David Healy, CEO of Europe, Middle East and Africa for Aetna International. “We know that when breast cancer is detected early, and adequate diagnosis and treatments are available, it is a very curable condition.”