Damascus, Waiting for their turn at Abu Zar al Ghafari health center in Damascus, a group of women gathered around a doctor who was explaining more about breast cancer. Such scene has become daily since the launch of the National Campaign for Breast Cancer Early Detection earlier this month.
The center is just one among a thousand of health centers distributed across Syrian provinces which provide free medical examinations for all women to detect suspicious breast abnormalities (i.e., masses), in addition to awareness sessions on the importance of early detection of breast cancer as only 36 women undergo mammograms.
The campaign helped dispel fear and encouraged women to come and conduct medical examinations to catch cancer in early stages when it is still treatable, said Faten who visited the center and had a mammogram whose result was normal and reassuring.
Head of the center, Dr. Hazar al-Mikdad, noted that the center receives women of different ages in order to have mammograms and clinical breast exams, adding that several sessions are being held to educate women how to perform a breast self-exam to check for lumps or other breast changes that may signal breast cancer.
She indicated that women age over 40 and above will have mammograms and in cases where the disease is suspected and there are symptoms which need further assessment, the patient will be referred to a specialist breast cancer clinic in order to diagnose the current situation and set up a treatment plan.
Al-Mikdad said that the daily footfall since the beginning of the campaign is very high, indicating that the free breast cancer early detection services are not limited to the campaign period, rather they will be available all year round.
In turn, Dr. Qosai Salman, pointed out that mammograms help detect cancer at early stages and avoid total mastectomy of the breast, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, not to mention the huge financial burden the cancer treatment journey poses on the government since cancer treatment in Syria is free of charge.
Smoking, al-cohol consumption and obesity as well as other factors related to age and family history increase breast cancer risk, said Salman, adding that an important part of cancer prevention is as simple as making healthy lifestyle choices, or choosing healthful habits such as physical activity, healthy food and regular screening schedule.
Source: Syrian Arab News Agency