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September 22, 2013

WCMC-Q Study Finds Arab Women At Higher Risk Of Aggressive Breast Cancer

WCMC-Q Logo Stacked.jpgWomen in the Middle East often suffer with more aggressive forms of breast cancer than Western women, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar have discovered.

WCMC-Q’s assistant dean for basic science curriculum, Dr Lotfi Chouchane, was lead author of the research report. He said that Arab populations have some particularities in terms of cancer, especially breast cancer, and also that the clinical features of breast cancer among Arab women are different from other populations.

“Inflammatory breast cancer is the most lethal form of the disease and constitutes 1-2 percent of all breast cancer tumors in the United States,” said Dr Chouchane. “But a higher proportion of cases are reported in Arab populations.

“For example in Tunisia, seven to 10 percent of all breast cancer is inflammatory. Similarly, in a population-based study in the Gharbiah region of Egypt, inflammatory breast cancer was confirmed as more prevalent than in the United States, constituting up to 11 percent as opposed to 1-2 percent in the United States. ”

Breast cancer is a major health problem in both developed and developing countries and the research was published in the latest edition of The Lancet Oncology, an internationally respected medical journal. Co-authors were Dr Konduru Sastry, a research associate in microbiology and immunology at WCMC-Q, and Dr Hammouda Boussen from Tunisia.

The report finds that the incidence of breast cancer is lower in Arabic countries than in Europe and the United States but is rising fast. The report also finds breast cancers in women from Arab populations have different characteristics to those reported in women from the United States and Europe.At 48, the average age of presentation of breast cancer in Arab women is 10 years younger than patients in the US and Europe.

“Although several awareness campaigns have been undertaken, no structured national programs exist for population mammography screening in Arab countries,” Dr Chouchane said.

Dr Chouchane’s study was supported by the Biomedical Research Program fund at WCMC-Q and by grants from the Qatar National Research Fund. Cancer accounts for 10 percent of all deaths in Qatar and the leadership of Qatar has moved to improve the healthcare of patients with the Supreme Council of Health establishing the National Cancer Strategy. WCMC-Q supports the mission of Qatar’s National Cancer strategy that was launched in 2011 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Vice Chairperson of the Supreme Council of Health.

It was the first-ever initiative of its kind in the region to combat a disease. The cancer strategy is closely linked to the National Health Strategy (NHS).

With an investment of more than QR2.2 billion, the strategy also includes a plan for refurbishment of Al Amal Hospital to establish National Center for Cancer Care and Research, and a new cancer hospital, over the next five years.

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