By Elsa Baxter
Some 100 healthcare staff given basic training in detection as part of awareness campaign.
About 100 healthcare staff at Dubai Hospital will undergo basic training in breast cancer detection in a bid to improve patients’ survival rates in the emirate.
“There is not a huge amount of awareness of breast cancer in the country as a whole, especially how to do breast self-examination,” said Wendy Hewitt-Sayer, director of nursing at Dubai Hospital.
“However, with the training of nurses we hope to facilitate a change in that culture. Nurses are key to raising awareness because they are there at the bed-side all the time, they are there at every stage of a person’s life, in illness and in health,” she said.
Eight out of 10 women who attend the hospital’s breast cancer clinic – the only one of its kind in Dubai – are diagnosed with advanced stages of the disease, according to official figures.
Doctors say that while advanced cancers are treatable, the later a tumour is detected the worse a patient’s chance of survival is.
The training scheme has been set up by the hospital’s Breast Cancer Awareness Committee and is part of a 12-month campaign to increase understanding about the disease.
Groups of up to 30 staff members will be taught how to perform and teach breast self-examination, the common signs and symptoms of disease, and what is involved in diagnosis and treatment.
These staff members will go on to educate the clinic’s female in-patients as well as all other women attending the hospital, through maternity services, emergency room and general out-patients clinics.
“There really is a negative cultural element to breast cancer here, and it’s one of the things we focus on,” said Nasseem Rouhani, master trainer/coordinator at Vital Voices, the international charity that is running the training.
“A lot of the time the response to breast cancer is negative. People think it is a death sentence and that’s something we try to eliminate to break the cultural divide,” Rouhani added.