Breast cancer in MENA is becoming a serious issue. The rate of breast cancer cases in the region is ever increasing. While many awareness campaigns are constantly being held, a lot of women still don’t know much about it. The following article gives you the breakdown of breast cancer, why early detection is important, and breast cancer statistics in MENA.
So what is breast cancer? Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast area begin to grow and divide violently; creating tumors or lumps in the breast. These tumors are usually, recently and before, seen with an x-ray or are felt as lumps. It is important to note that not all lumps are malignant, most of the time they are just benign. Thus, it is important to always have them checked out.
Firstly, cancerous cells grow in three main parts of the breast which are the lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. Secondly, the lobules (glands producing milk) and ducts (tubes carrying milk to the nipple) are the two most common areas where cancerous cells begin to grow. Also, where cancer begins to grow from, how much it has spread, and what symptoms one is experiencing can indicate what type of breast cancer it is. Invasive ductal carcinoma, for example, begins to grow outside of the milk ducts and spreads to other parts of the breast. But, If detected late, the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. Invasive lobular carcinoma also has the same characteristics as invasive ductal carcinoma. However, the cancer cells begin to grow from the lobules and not the ducts.
Invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma are the two most common forms of breast cancer. To illustrate, a few rarer breast cancers include:
Before talking about the importance of early detection/diagnosis of breast cancer, it is important to know the symptoms first:
When a woman turns 40, annual check-ups of the breast is required and it becomes crucial that women at that age keep a look out for any sort of change on the breast. Should malignant cells start growing, the earlier it is detected, the better as it results in more treatment options and a 93% to 99% survival rate in the first 5 years.
Also, there are 3 forms of check-up, and it is safer to do all three. The first is breast self-exams. This is basically looking at the mirror for discoloration of any type, swelling, sensitivity, or noticeable lumps. In addition, the second check-up is a clinical breast exam; which is a physical examination done by a health professional. Finally, and the most common form of examination, is mammograms. (Will be discussed in the following section of this article.)
The standardized time for breast cancer check-ups is annual. But there are women, men even, who are at higher risks of getting breast cancer; meaning that some people need to do it more frequently than others. Advanced technology has created a tool called MammoRisk®. It is an artificial intelligence (AI) based tool that helps doctors define the best breast cancer surveillance program for women according to the personal risk. MammoRisk® uses clinical data such as family history, breast density obtained from a mammogram, and a genetic test to calculate the risk score; a polygenic risk score (PRS). The MammoRisk® software then delivers a personalized screening plan (PSP) for each individual based on the computed risk score.
Many people understate the importance of a personalised screening plan, but it is vital. Especially with the increase in breast cancer rates due to the world population moving towards an unhealthier lifestyle. PSPs offer:
(For more information about MammoRisk®, click the link here https://cancerdusein.predilife.com/)
A mammogram is a low-dose, x-ray image of the breast. Specifically, it’s used to detect early symptoms of breast cancer. The way it works is simple but really uncomfortable. A woman stands in front of the x-ray machine – specifically designed for the breast area – and puts one breast on the plate. Another plate slab will press the breast from the top to give a clearer view. Hence, the same process is repeated for side views of the breast. There are two uses of mammograms, specifically, screening and diagnostic.
Screening mammograms are for detecting signs of breast cancer before physicians notice them. If the cancer is detected before the symptoms appear, then that means it can be treated and removed before it metastasizes. Another benefit of early detection.
On the other hand, Diagnostic mammograms are used to evaluate the type and stage of breast cancer. Therefore, there are 5 stages ranging from Stage 0 to Stage 4:
Since mammograms are a form of x-ray, there’s a risk of exposure. But it’s a very low risk and as mentioned earlier, mammograms have low-dose levels of radiation. In fact, modern x-ray machines have lower levels of radiation than before. At the end of the day, it’s better to be safe and take necessary action to avoid painful treatment than to ignore the whole thing because of minimal radiation exposure.
Solution providers, such as MAVIG, have been producing x-ray protective shields to reduce radiation exposure. The last thing a patient needs is to feel anxious during a mammogram screening. So, these added layers of protection help put the mind at ease.
Generally, breast cancer rates in MENA are constantly rising. Several studies have shown that the increase in breast cancer rates started to increase when obesity started rising. For example, the cultural foods of Middle Eastern and North African countries are usually vegetables and grains. However, the shift from a healthy diet to a fatty, fast-food-based diet resulted in obesity rates surging which resulted to increase breast cancer cases in women.
|Country||Rank for ASR of female breast cancer||ASR of breast cancer (95%CI)||Number of breast cancer cases (% of total cases)||Total of sample size (%of total sample size)|
|Lebanon||1||68.9 (50.4, 90.3)||5908 (1.5)||7,717,060 (0.6)|
|Kuwait||2||54.8 (34.8, 79.2)||1396 (0.4)||4,010,811 (0.3)|
|UAE||3||53.3 (34.8, 73.9)||2616 (0.7)||7,357,716 (0.6)|
|Pakistan||4||51.8 (37.2, 68.9)||173,768 (43.9)||281,000,438 (21.9)|
|Qatar||5||49.1 (26.01, 79.02)||9813 (2.5)||26,686,518 (2.1)|
|Bahrain||6||46.2 (24.01, 73.9)||695 (0.2)||1,537,277 (0.1)|
|Jordan||7||44.9 (33.6, 57.8)||5461 (1.4)||16,901,905 (1.3)|
|Libya||8||44.9 (28.1, 64.8)||2714 (0.7)||12,806,644 (0.9)|
|Djibouti||9||40.9 (19.4, 68.9)||598 (0.1)||1,621,024 (0.1)|
|Iraq||10||39.7 (28.1, 53.3)||22,766 (5.7)||51,396,093 (4.0)|
|Yemen||11||37.2 (28.1, 47.6)||448 (0.1)||1,383,852 (0.1)|
|Sudan||12||36.7 (29.2, 44.9)||14,788 (3.7)||56,335,878 (4.4)|
|Morocco||13||36.1 (28.1, 44.9)||25,575 (6.5)||50,864,911 (3.9)|
|Egypt||14||33.6 (26.01, 43.6)||50,002 (12.6)||93,279,217 (7.3)|
|Afghanistan||15||33.6 (26.01, 43.6)||6746 (1.7)||48,588,869 (3.8)|
|Somalia||16||33.6 (20.2, 49.3)||3689 (0.9)||18,502,099 (1.4)|
|Tunisia||17||32.5 (24.01, 42.3)||7772 (1.9)||16,625,705 (1.3)|
|Oman||18||32.5 (18.5, 51.8)||1191 (0.3)||30,466,497 (2.4)|
|Iran||19||31.9 (28.2, 35.8)||45,641 (11.5)||484,392,544 (37.7)|
|Saudi Arabia||20||30.3 (22.1, 40.9)||6915 (1.7)||39,440,443 (3.1)|
|Syrian Arab Republic||21||24.01 (11.6, 39.7)||7196 (1.8)||32,237,054 (2.5)|
|Total of EMR**||…..||37.1 (34.5, 39.8)||382,367 (100)||1,283,152,555 (100)|
Citation: Zahedi, R., Molavi Vardanjani, H., Baneshi, M.R. et al. Incidence trend of breast Cancer in women of eastern Mediterranean region countries from 1998 to 2019: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Women’s Health 20, 53 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-020-00903-z
With the advancement of technology in the medical sector, detecting breast cancer is becoming simpler. An AI-based tool such as MammoRisk® reassures women if they don’t have cancer, and helps in early detection to pursue treatment. Companies like MAVIG offer protection to both patients and medical staff in terms of over radiation exposure.
Lastly, with breast cancer awareness campaigns increasing in the MENA region, many women have begun to understand their bodies more and change their lifestyle towards a healthier one to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer.
Feel free to contact us for more information on medical equipment related to breast cancer available in the MENA region.
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