In its effort to raise awareness about the disease, as well as the importance of early detection, Zahra Association has joined hands with health professionals and a number of private and public institutions, including universities, hospitals and health clubs from across the Kingdom. The campaign launch event is being held at Saudi Electricity Co. Club in Riyadh.
The urgency for aggressive awareness drives against breast cancer can be understood from the numbers: in Saudi Arabia, more than 70 percent of patients consult doctors at an advanced stage, compared to 30 percent in the developed world, according to the Ministry of Health. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in Saudi Arabia, according to a 2017 report by the World Health Organization, comprising 18.7 percent of all new registered cases as of 2014.
A 2012 study by the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), conducted at King Khalid University Hospital, Riyadh, between January 2001 and December 2010, revealed that the percentage of annual incidence of malignant breast cancer steadily increased from an annual rate of 23.5 percent in 2000 to 47.2 percent in 2007.
“Continued vigilance, mammographic screening, and patient education are needed to establish early diagnosis and perform optimal treatment,” the study concluded. The average age at presentation of breast cancer in Arab countries is 48 years, which is a decade earlier than in western countries, the NCBI study noted.
The Zahra Association campaign, launched under the slogan “Minutes Worth Years”, includes lectures, seminars, exhibitions and visual presentations, as well as free consultations. The official launch ceremony on Thursday evening was attended by the Governor of Riyadh Prince Faisal bin Bandar, who underscored the importance of breast cancer awareness.
Chairperson of the Zahra Association Princess Haifa Al Faisal said the campaign extends to various regions of the Kingdom and will continue until October 31, in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It aims to highlight “the importance of early detection of breast cancer”, she said, noting that the screening does not take more than 20 minutes and “will contribute to raising the rate of cure.”
The campaign targets women in particular and society in general, noted the Association, which will open an interactive exhibition at Al Hamra Complex on Saturday.
In 2015, the country’s breast cancer awareness program gained international recognition when social enterprise Alf Khair hosted 10ksa, at Princess Nourah University. More than 8,200 Saudi women set a Guinness World Record by forming the World’s Largest Human Awareness Ribbon under the leadership of Princess Reema bint Bandar, founder of Alf Khair. For the benefit of Zahra, 10ksa expanded the breast cancer dialogue into holistic health and wellness as a national priority.
Shada AlDahash, General Manager of Zahra Association, said the latest campaign takes place in several business centers in collaboration with more than 17 universities and educational institutes, more than 31 clubs and health centers and over 50 hospitals, laboratories and health centers in Riyadh, Al Kharj, the Eastern Province and the Southern Region.
Riyadh-based Zahra Association has a strategic plan for cancer control in the Kingdom, focused on health education, early detection, training, patient support as well as research.