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What is breast cancer, and how common is it in the UAE?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the cells of the breasts, affecting both women and men. In the UAE, the prevalence is significant, with an increasing number of individuals being diagnosed. Breast cancer tends to present earlier in the UAE population, the median age is around 48 years. 21.5% of breast cancers are between 30-40 years. While exact percentages may vary, staying informed and proactive is crucial for early detection and successful outcomes.

What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

Keep an eye out for any changes, such as the formation of a lump, alterations in breast size or shape, changes in nipples, skin dimpling, color changes, rashes, nipple discharge, a sunken breast area, or persistent pain. Early consultation with a healthcare professional is essential to rule out breast cancer.

What factors contribute to the development of breast cancer?

The causes of breast cancer are not fully known, but certain factors increase the risk. These include age, family history, previous breast cancer, and specific genes. Lifestyle choices, such as excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and height, may also play a role.

Can breast cancer be prevented, and what proactive steps can be taken?

While complete prevention is uncertain, adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, limited alcohol intake, weight management, breastfeeding, and postmenopausal weight control are important considerations.

How can early detection empower individuals?

Regular self-checks and prompt reporting of any changes to your doctor are empowering steps. The Department of Health recommends that women should have a mammogram every 2 years from the age of 40. However if cancer runs in the family or if you have an inherited genetic mutation, screening should start earlier than 40. Monthly self-breast examination is a proactive and empowering practice for early detection of potential changes or abnormalities in breast tissue.

What are the different types of breast cancer, and how do they develop?

Breast cancer can be non-invasive (carcinoma in situ) or invasive, with the latter being more common and potentially dangerous. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for diagnosis and treatment planning.

How does breast cancer spread, and what are the warning signs?

Secondary breast cancer involves the disease spreading to other parts of the body through the lymphatic or blood systems. If you experience unexplained symptoms like nausea, fatigue, or breathlessness, timely reporting to a cancer specialist is crucial.

What are the treatment approaches for breast cancer?

Early detection is crucial as it allows us to craft a comprehensive treatment plan perfectly suited to the specific biology and presentation of the cancer. Typically, this involves surgery, such as mastectomy or lumpectomy, followed by a customized blend of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormone or biological treatments. In our approach to surgical management, our aim is clear: eradicate all disease while preserving as much normal breast tissue as possible. Achieving a clear margin, where healthy tissue surrounds the removed cancer, is pivotal for ensuring a successful outcome. The size, location, and extent of breast tissue affected inform our surgical recommendations, providing a range of options tailored to individual needs. It’s worth emphasizing that not all cancers necessitate chemotherapy, underscoring the significance of personalized care in our treatment approach.

What are the survival rates for breast cancer, and how has progress been made?

Survival rates for breast cancer have steadily improved in the UAE, reaching up to 89% over 5 years. Timely intervention, early detection, and advancements in treatment contribute to positive outcomes for patients.

By staying informed, conducting regular self-checks, and seeking professional guidance, individuals can take control of their breast health, promoting better chances of survival and overall well-being in the face of breast cancer. If you have any concerns or notice changes, remember that early intervention is key to the best possible outcomes.