Posted on October 12, 2015

Sidra Medical and Research Center (Sidra) and Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) have partnered to raise awareness of the importance of breast cancer screening in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). Teams from both organizations will jointly host a series of information sessions and workshops on the 15th of October 2015 at the College of Art and Science in Qatar University.

Health professionals from Sidra and QCS will be on hand to help address questions related to causes and identification of breast cancer; showcase self-examination techniques using models and manikins; and highlight screening facilities and treatment options available in the country. A female clinician will be available to answer questions with the additional support of Sidra’s Qatari healthcare promoters. Sidra’s team of Qatari healthcare promoters will be playing a key role in spreading awareness and addressing questions related to screening and treatment options.

Early detection via breast cancer screening has been found to be successful in decreasing mortality rates. However, despite the screening options available in Qatar, the percentage of women in Qatar getting screened for breast cancer is still very low.  Sidra and QCS encourage students from Qatar University to attend the workshop and learn how to conduct self-examinations and to look out for key signs for breast cancer. The joint session is a follow up from an internal workshop that Sidra and QCS held recently for its own staff.

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According to a 2011 study exploring breast cancer screening practices amongst Arab women living in Qatar, the country has the third highest rate of breast cancer occurrence in the Gulf region. It was cited as the most common cancer in Qatar with an increasing incidence rate. A key finding highlighted that only 7.6 per cent of women surveyed had basic knowledge of breast cancer screening options. The study also found that women often present with breast cancer at advanced stages in Qatar with nearly 60 per cent never having either conducted a self-exam or taken a clinical examination or mammogram. The study was conducted by the University of Calgary-Qatar in partnership with Al Amal Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation and the Supreme Council of Health.

Several studies suggest that the lack of knowledge acts as a major barrier for women to participate in screening activities. Other factors that act as barriers are fear of cancer, fear of finding out one has cancer and the notion that there is no cure. Lack of knowledge also contributes to the misconception that breast examination and mammography could be painful. The session at Qatar University is being organized by Sidra’s Outreach, Community Relations and Patient Education teams, who have plans to host similar information sessions in the community for other health related topics. The Outreach team will also have a presence on the 15th of October and will be available to address questions about career and internship opportunities at Sidra.