People don’t leave any stone unturned to keep themselves safe from COVID-19. John Varughese / Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
October is synonymous with “pink,” the colour having become the mark for breast cancer and advocates have batted for continuous awareness campaigns and support drives, even as these, alongside advancing Medicine, Science and Technology, have led to early diagnoses and treatment.
On the other hand, Burjeel Hospital (Abu Dhabi) Medical Oncology consultant Dr. Urfan Ul Haq and Amina Medical Centre (Ajman)-Reproductive Medicine & In-Vitro Fertility Department head Dr. Amal Al Mulla said on Thursday that men and women who have recovered from breast cancer are not most likely to be affected by the ever-mysterious and dreaded Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Ul Haq said: “Patients who have undergone the treatment for breast cancer in the past would have their immune system recover within a few months. Hence, COVID19 does not possess a risk for patients who have been treated with breast cancer in the past.”
However, chances of developing severe illness also lie in factors such as old age and co-morbidities or underlying medical conditions.
Al Mulla also quoted the US Department of Health and Human Sciences-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “The risk of getting COVID19 infection for breast cancer patients can result in a serious outcome and they can get severely ill, further compromising their immunity. They may be undergoing chemotherapy and immunotherapy that have weakened their immune system.” They may develop lung problems and COVID19 is an upper respiratory disease.
Both cautioned on the metastasis of the cancer cells, particularly in the lungs, making patients more prone to catch the SARS-CoV2.
Ul Haq said breast cancer patients have become bothered or troubled on their susceptibility to COVID19. One solution is the strict observance of precautionary measures.
Al Mulla said that Arab women breast cancer patients are much younger than their Caucasian counterparts by 15 years. She pointed out the typical reaction of equating this to death.
“But recent advances in treatment and management have proved to increase (their chances of survival) and that they can indeed do better,” the Obstetrics & Gynaecologist consultant, added.
Efforts of both public and private officials, practitioners and supporters in sounding off screening programmes, self-examination protocol and ultrasound “allow us to discover any suspicious mass (and detect) the disease at an early stage.”
Zulekha Hospitals (Sharjah and Dubai) “Pimk It Now” campaign ambassador Dr. Pamela Munster believes in empowering medical practitioners to undertake and participate in research and clinical trials. The University of California (San Francisco, USA)-Department of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology) professor said: “Over the years, sedentary lifestyle may make our lives (prone) to these diseases. The greater education we can provide to the industry professionals as well as to the non-clinical masses, the better the outcomes will be.”
As for the support group, the Zulekha Hospitals as well as the Burjeel Hospital and Medeor Hospital have calendared the entire month of October for free breast cancer consultations aside from other awareness projects.
Al Mulla cited the UAE National Cancer Registry of 2014 which she said was published in January 2018 by the Ministry of Health and Prevention: 768 new invasive breast cancer cases with 429 among women from age 50 and below, and 165 among women between the ages of 30 and 40.
According to the Statista Research Department: “As of 2018, colon cancer caused 277 deaths in the UAE followed by breast cancer close to 260 deaths.”
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