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Zulekha Hospital's 'pink it now' campaign sees over 10,000 free screenings

Free-screening at Zulekha Hospital till November 30. This year's focus is on incidence of breast cancer in men.

Zulekha Hospital's 'pink it now' breast cancer awareness campaign has been encouraging early detection and prevention of the disease over 8 years in UAE and has attracted over 10,000 women to attend the free screenings and consultations in its hospitals to-date.

The management team Dr Zulekha Daud, founder and chairperson of Zulekha Healthcare Group, managing director Taher Shams, Co-chairperson Zanubia Shams, launched the initiative this year along with Dr Ahmed bin Kalban, CEO of the Specialised Healthcare Services Sector, Dubai Health Authority and Dr Pamela Munster, Professor of Medicine, UCSF for its 8th edition.
 
After successfully encouraging women residents to come forward and take up the free screenings, the healthcare provider now furthers the cause to break the stigma in minds of men who may be diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, impacting 2.1 million women each year, and also causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths. Male breast cancer is a relatively rare cancer but one that doctors often diagnose in the later stages. Knowing how to recognise the signs can help a person get early treatment.

"Having positively treated male breast cancer patients at the hospital, we felt the need to extend our awareness focus beyond the norm and ensure we create awareness early on incidence of this disease in men. When we started our campaign in 2012 we had a handful of people stepping forward to take the early check. Today we have touched thousands of lives. With our experiences, we believe our first steps will lead to greater positive changes in a few years from now," said co-chairperson Zanubia Shams.

Breast cancers being common in women, many studies have been conducted on female breast cancer and the results have reached statistical significance due to large numbers. The treatment guidelines are standardized. However, since male breast cancer incidence are not so common there may not be many studies on the topic. Specialists feel that this issue can be tackled by conducting multiple studies worldwide whereby a larger male breast cancer number will help arrive at a standard for diagnosis and treatments.
 
Dr Munster said: "Women and men are prone to this disease and it will only be beneficial to raise awareness and consider male breast cancer patients in breast cancer trials that can result is discovery of advanced treatments. As for the patients, symptoms may be painless and at times completely unknown. With the sedentary lifestyle one can never say when and how the disease may set in. Early detection can help prevention."

Campaign partner spokesperson, Gita Ghaemmaghami, regional communications director, TikTok Mena said: "Early detection of breast cancer for both men and women is vital which is why we are extremely proud to be partnering with Zulekha Hospital for its 'Pink it Now' initiative this year. Lending our support through our TikTok platform, we are hoping to raise awareness among our audiences in the region to ensure as many people as possible come forward for free screenings. We are constantly collaborating with local private and public entities to roll out initiatives that spread positivity and informative content across the Middle East and North Africa, this partnership is another step in that direction as we support Zulekha Hospital team's efforts to create awareness for the cause."

For the earliest stages of breast cancer in men, stages 0 and I (zero and one), the 5-year survival rate is 100 per cent. Approximately 47 per cent of men with breast cancer are diagnosed with this stage. The 5-year survival rate for men with stage II (two) disease is 87 per cent and stage III (three) disease is 75 per cent. When the disease has spread to other parts of the body, the stage is called stage IV (four). The 5-year survival rate for men with stage IV breast cancer is 25 per cent. Even if the cancer is found at a more advanced stage, new treatments help many people with breast cancer maintain a good quality of life, at least for some time.