World-Class Cancer Screening with 360 Degree ‘Screen For Life’ Support Philosophy

Screen For Life, Qatar’s free national breast and bowel cancer screening programme, is to be expanded as details of its take-up and cancer detection rates reveal world-class results.

The programme, which entails a full-service network of highly skilled professionals offering step-by-step, best practice participant support, is operated by the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) in line with its mission to provide Qatar with world-class cancer screening services.

Figures released show that Qatar now has a breast cancer screening uptake rate of 52% and a bowel cancer screening uptake of 49%. This indicates that the country’s cancer programme is in line with key areas when compared to similar national programmes worldwide.

Dr Shaikha Abu Shaikha, Manager of the screening programmes at PHCC, said the results demonstrated Qatar’s commitment to early detection of breast and bowel cancer – the two most prevalent cancers recorded in the country.

The figures speak for themselves and have to be judged alongside the reality that early screening can lead to a 98% survival rate in the case of breast cancer and 90% in bowel cancer.

Screen For Life is leading the mission to ease the burden of cancer on Qatar and help build a healthier, happier population through its ongoing, wide-ranging awareness drive and outreach programme. The Screen For Life marketing team works tirelessly to engage with communities to share the programme’s goals and enhance breast and bowel cancer awareness levels across the country.

Dr Shaikha said the programme would soon expand with a fourth screening suite and the introduction of second level screening using ultrasound. She attributes the programme’s world-class performance to its 360-degree support philosophy.

Screen For Life support begins with staff at the programme’s dedicated call centre (800 1112) contacting eligible people and inviting them to attend a screening.

Currently, women aged between 45 to 69 years are encouraged to undergo free mammogram every three years for breast cancer detection, whether or not they have concerns or symptoms, while anyone in the 50 to 74 years age bracket is encouraged to undergo screening for bowel cancer every two years.

Screen for LifeOn screening day, participants are welcomed by a PHCC nurse who gives them a full briefing on the process and procedures. If results are normal, the participant is invited back for another screening after three years for breast cancer, or two years for bowel screening. However, if the results are abnormal, which doesn’t necessarily mean the participant has cancer, the participant is recalled for further assessment.

Screen For Life guides the participant closely through the next steps and secures an appointment with specialists at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) which closely collaborates with the programme. The programme continues to offer full support to participants right through the post screening stage; if the results were again normal after the assessment at HMC, participants are back in the programme’s system and will be recalled for screening as per the guidelines.

The very word cancer, according to Dr Shaikha, can often strike fear into people. She said that they fully understand this and provide support which helps allay the level of worry through the process.

We work with HMC to ensure that the process is completed as quickly as possible and that participants do not have to wait long for appointments. Screen For Life is by the participant’s side, every step of the way, ensuring always that patients have somewhere to turn to for support.

Qatar offers excellent cancer care and screening is free for citizens and residents in the country. Dr Shaikha said that residents in Qatar are indeed fortunate to have this level of care, urging everyone to take advantage of the public service.