Doha, September 13. The clinical features of breast cancer among Arab women are quite different from other populations and Middle East women often present with more aggressive forms of breast cancer than Western women, a research report by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar has found.
Breast cancer is a major health problem in both developed and developing countries. 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.
WCMC-Q Assistant Dean for Basic Science Curriculum Professor Lotfi Chouchane said Arab populations have some particularities in terms of cancer, especially breast cancer, and also 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 per cent of all breast cancer tumors in the United States. But a higher proportion of cases are reported in Arab populations. For example in Tunisia, seven to 10 per cent 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 per cent as opposed to 1-2 per cent in the United States. ”
Professor Chouchane was lead author of the report published in the latest edition of The Lancet Oncology, an internationally respected medical journal. Co-authors were WCMC-Q research associate in microbiology and immunology Dr. Konduru Sastry and Dr. Hammouda Boussen from Tunisia.
The Lancet Oncology is a peer-reviewed and edited journal that is recognized for providing a global, authoritative, and independent forum for the highest quality clinical oncology research and opinion. With an impact factor of 25.12, the journal ranks among the top 3 oncology journals worldwide, is the leading clinical research journal in oncology, and is in the top 0.5% of all scientific journals, of any discipline, in the world.
“This report is going to be the reference for anybody who wan to undertake studies about breast cancer in Arab populations and researchers will refer to it because here we describe all the characteristics of breast cancer in Arab populations based on our own findings and based also on the literature what is found,” Professor Chouchane said.
The reduction of the incidence in breast cancer and its mortality can be achieved with major efforts in screening and early detection, Professor Chouchane said. “Although several awareness campaigns have been undertaken, no structured national programs exist for population mammography screening in Arab countries.
“The cultural value of modesty and misconceptions about cancer, coupled with insufficient levels of education about breast cancer and difficulties in accessing healthcare facilities can often prohibit women from participating in breast screening. And this can lead to delayed detection,” Professor Chouchane said.
He said breast cancer mortality could be reduced if the disease was detected at an early stage by the implementation of proper awareness and screening programs that would be possible in countries with sufficient resources. Further research on cancer should also be given priority in Arab countries, Professor Chouchane said.
This study was supported by the Biomedical Research Program fund at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and by grants from the Qatar National Research Fund. The rapidly expanding Research Department at WCMC-Q seeks to establish a state of the art biomedical research program focused on tackling the most pressing health needs in Qatar and the region.
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 QR2,204m, 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.