According to Qatar National Cancer Registry at the Ministry of Public Health, 16.2% of breast cancer cases diagnosed in Qatar are in women aged between 45 and 49 years old. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Qatar and the second leading cause of death in women worldwide.

Professor Karl Alexander Knuth, Medical Director at the National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR) said that at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), they strongly believe in the link between awareness and early detection in reducing the incidence of breast cancer.

We encourage women of any age to seek medical advice if they notice changes in their breasts or any unusual symptoms. Time is of the essence, and without doubt, breast cancer is most treatable when detected early.’

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and HMC is joining global efforts to increase public awareness of breast cancer, specifically signs and symptoms of the disease. The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. Other possible symptoms can include swelling of all or part of a breast, skin irritation or dimpling, breast or nipple pain, nipple retraction (turning inward), redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, and nipple discharge (other than breast milk).

In recent years, the discovery of new therapies and technologies has provided an almost overwhelming menu of treatment choices for breast cancer, bringing new hope for patients. According to Professor Knuth, while there have been many advancements in breast cancer treatment, particularly in the area of drug therapies, regular breast screenings are essential for reducing one’s risk of breast cancer.

There has been a lot of good news about breast cancer recently; treatments keep getting better and people know more about ways to protect themselves against this disease. When combined together, technology advancements, research developments, and awareness programmes greatly help to improve all cancer services and reduce the impact and extent of breast cancer.’

The Executive Director of Nursing at NCCCR, Catherine Gillespie, echoed his sentiment, adding that while HMC has adopted cutting-edge technologies, including operating the first PET CT scanner in the region, the focus remains on improving cancer services and patient outcomes.

Our focus on improving cancer services – one of the objectives of the National Cancer Strategy (2011-2016) – has seen advancements in cancer diagnostics and treatment options year on year. As a result, the number of people who survived cancer has greatly increased.’

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, HMC is reminding the public about the importance of prevention, early detection, and treatment. Throughout the pink month, it will hold a range of activities aimed at enhancing awareness of breast cancer risk factors among women and increasing knowledge of lesser-known breast cancer symptoms.

Visit the HMC website for more information on HMC’s breast cancer awareness campaign.