ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates Health Authority has issued a statement calling for women between the ages of 40 and 69 to undergo yearly mammograms, which are included in their health insurance. The move is the latest in a series of initiatives to reduce the rate of breast cancer among women.
Breast cancer is the most lethal disease among women in the UAE. The National Centre for Statistics reports that it accounts for 23 percent of the total cancer cases in the country.
Health officials are hoping that the mammogram campaign will promote the early detection of cancer. At present, only 30 percent of breast cancer cases in the UAE are diagnosed early, before cancer cells have grown significantly.
The Abu Dhabi Health Authority states that breast cancer is fatal in 44 percent of cases in the UAE. A total of 2,121 cases were reported between 1998 and 2007, of which 76 involved women under the age of thirty.
Officials hope that new mammogram screening procedures will save lives. One official confirmed that, "Through local data, we estimate that, of every 60 women who undergo mammogram screenings, one woman's life is saved from breast cancer."
Cancer among women is a source of increasing concern for health officials, who say that a higher incidence of breast cancer is correlated with a higher incidence of other forms of cancer, especially lung cancer.
With the increasing prevalence of smoking among young women, especially shisha, where tobacco is smoked through a water pipe, the incidence of lung cancer has also increased at a fast pace.
Health officials have noticed that shisha, once only common among men, has become fashionable among young women.
Sources: Gulf News / The National