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Helping breast cancer victims
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 23 - 04 - 2010

"I was really shocked when my wife felt something abnormal in her breast. It affected her whole life, including the way she treated our children and her attitude towards her domestic duties.
When a woman discovers that she has breast cancer, her world becomes
dark," says Dr Mamdouh el-Shawarbi, a consultant tumours surgery at el-
Sahel Hospital in Shubra, north of Cairo.
It was on Thursday in February last year that Dr el- Shawarbi's wife
discovered the lump on her breast. On Saturday, he removed it ��" it was one
centimetre in diameter.
Dr el-Shawarbi's wife has a family history of cancer but not breast cancer; so he urged his wife to have regular check-ups after the operation.
She also received chemotherapy. “Following such surgery, a woman should have a checkup every six months for first two years and then a mammogram and ultrasound once every year for five years,” he notes.
The case of Dr el-Shawarbi's wife was highlighted at the inauguration of an early breast cancer detection programme for female employees at the Egyptian Ministry of Finance, held in Cairo last week.
The programme was organised by the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt (BCFE), an NGO headed by Dr Mohamed Shaalan, a professor of tumours surgery at the National Tumour Institute (NTI).
Dr el-Shawarbi noted that husband of a woman with breast cancer should support her in her crisis.
“Some men in senior positions divorce their wife if she develops breast cancer, while there are men in humble positions who give their wife every support in this situation,” he said.
The cost of breast cancer surgery ranges between LE1,500 and LE3,000 (around $550).
BCFE uses specialists from the NTI to give women check-ups for breast cancer.
It also gives women training courses in detecting breast cancer, as well as free mammograms. Dr Shaalan said that, although more women were becoming aware of the dangers, the number of breast cancer cases was increasing, which means early detection is vital.
“BCFE is therefore very concerned about raising awareness among women. It believes that society needs to change its attitude towards breast cancer and correct misconceptions about the disease,” he added.
“It is not true that breast cancer is a genetic disease. A woman doesn't pass it on to her daughter. To reduce the chances of contracting this disease, women should breastfeed their babies, while regular sport and avoiding obesity and junk food are also important.”
Dr Shaalan urged women to have a mammogram costing LE300, stressing that BCFE gives many women mammograms for free or for a symbolic sum.
He added that BCFE provided women, who had to have their breasts removed with artificial breasts, made in Egypt. His foundation has also trained 100 doctors and nurses in the early detection of breast cancer at family health units in Alexandria. Manal A. Bashat, a housewife with three sons, said that she discovered that she had breast cancer five years ago.
“My husban and our sons were very supportive. Without their support, I doubt I would have recovered,” she added. Bashat's mother, who also suffered from breast cancer, was always pestering her daughter to have regular
need chemotherapy, just hormone treatment. Ghada Moustafa, who works in public relations for BCFE, said that they had a
database about female employees at the Ministry of Finance, with detailed information about their medical history.
“We have started a new programme to remove breast tumours, in collaboration with a number of hospitals,” she added.

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