Derived from October, Pinktober is a social month dedicated to breast cancer awareness worldwide.
In Egypt, breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women, accounting for 38.8 percent of cancers within this demographic. However, as the online world celebrates survivors and spreads necessary information, Egypt is vacant of pink ribbons. Pink is not seen anywhere adorning the traffic-packed streets of Cairo to notify commuters of the importance of this month, and spread needed awareness. As a result, public awareness of its symptoms and treatment remain unclear to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of women across Egypt.
For many Egyptians, it is uncommon and often unheard of to conduct regular check ups; seldom do Egyptians book doctors appointments or healthcare check-ups unless they are beginning to observe symptoms or feel pain.
That said, one of the most popular slogans for breast cancer awareness is “the best protection is early detection”. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early, and is in its localized stage (when cancer is limited to the place where it started and has not spread anywhere else), the five-year relative survival rate is 99 percent.
In recent years, the Egyptian government has been prioritizing public health through the 100 Million Healthy Lives Initiative (100 Million Seha), a nationwide program dedicated to Hepatitis C, as well as the Egyptian Women’s Health Initiative.
The Egyptian Women’s Health Initiative offers women screening of carcinoma of the breast at an early stage, clinical examinations, and free-of-charge treatment, in addition to the detection of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, blood pressure, and obesity.
Under this presidential initiative, women above the age of 18 are granted free screening at 3,538 healthcare units, and 114 hospitals nationwide.
As for those diagnosed with breast cancer after the screening, they can receive free of charge treatment at university hospitals and centers affiliated to the Ministry of Health and Population.
Women can receive necessary information as well as details of their nearest healthcare unit and documents required through the initiative’s active hotline, 15335, or their website.
Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population recently reported that early detection of breast tumors among Egyptian women has risen by 70.5 percent since the introduction of the Egyptian Women’s Health Initiative.
Nearly 28 million women have been examined to date, and recovery rates have significantly improved, as part of the initiative.
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