Publication Date: 03 November 2019 Category:Primary News Qatar’s public health providers and partners intensified effort to spread awareness of breast cancer last October. The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Qatar Cancer Society are working to educate people about the risk factors, warning signs and importance of screenings to limit local mortality rates from the disease. The joint campaign was staged to mark International Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to strengthen local impact in building local awareness.“Breast Cancer Awareness is recognised internationally each October and we are delighted to work in collaboration with our community and healthcare partners. Breast cancer in Qatar remains the most common cancer diagnosis and we know that early detection improves outcomes and survival. Awareness is therefore key”. Catherine Gillespie, National Cancer Program Director Ministry of public Health. “The fact is that breast cancer needs no longer be fatal though early detection is a key factor in survival rates. There is almost a 100% chance of survival if we catch breast cancer early enough. Women should also realise that having a mammogram once, is not the end of the ‘screening’ process. Mammograms should be conducted every three years to ensure early detection as conditions can change,” explained Dr. Shaikha Abu Shaikha, Manager of Screening Programs at PHCC. Qatar’s National Breast and Bowel Cancer Screening program launched a ‘Put Yourself First ‘campaign as part of its ‘Screen for Life’ initiative. The campaign included widening the opportunities for women in Qatar, aged 45 and above, to undergo complimentary ‘mammogram’ screening for breast cancer and it featured public lectures, training for physicians, a nationwide tour by a mobile screening unit, information booths in malls and health centers, social media contests and an advertising campaign to promote the early screening message. Women in Qatar were also qualified for free screening at any of the three PHCC screening suites at Al Wakra, Leabaib and Rawdat Al Khail Health Centers. Dr. Mohammed Ussama Al Homsi, Senior Consultant, Oncology Department, NCCCR said: “For four decades HMC has embarked on a wide range of initiatives to raise awareness of many diseases including cancer, and breast cancer in particular. HMC’s ultimate goal is to develop a healthy population and a cancer free generation. The joint efforts with our healthcare partners over the years have resulted in the successful delivery of a wide range of awareness activities. To mark this year’s BCAM, HMC has organized a range of events and educational activities across its network of hospitals and facilities and also held its annual breast cancer conference in parallel with an awareness activity in Katara. HMC’s awareness activities focus on simple steps that can be implemented to reduce the condition’s potentially devastating effects and improve the quality of life for breast cancer patients. One of our top priorities is to ensure women are aware of all types of cancer including breast and gynaecological cancer and to educate them to recognize the signs and symptoms as early as possible and enable them to take care of their health. Breast cancer can be a devastating disease, but the risk can be reduced through awareness that remains an effective tool to determine how severe it may be and decide on the best treatment options available.”Qatar Cancer Society launched the “Blossom” campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer and have organised several events during the month of October including a “Walk to Support” on Doha Corniche, Aspire Torch Step campaign, Fitness festival at Al Shaqab, community awareness activities in Kidzania, schools, universities, banks, companies, etc. Heba Nasser, Head of Health Education Department at QCS, said “Blossom “ is a national campaign targeting all of the Qatari community with the aim to emphasize the importance of periodic examination for early detection; to spread a healthy lifestyle culture to prevent cancer, to highlight the health services available in the State of Qatar, to activate the society’s role in providing psychological and financial support to cancer patients and improve the experiences of individuals living with cancer.