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Gift of early diagnosis

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Cancer treatment is free for the citizens in the Sultanate of Oman even though the cost of providing cancer care is estimated at RO 15 million for all types of cancer.

Keeping in mind the high cost of treatment and saving patients from enormous suffering, early detection is highly recommended. Furthermore, regular health examination not only saves lives, but also reduces the psychological burden the family and relatives of the patients undergo.

“We are putting pressure on the GDP and the economy. We should do more to find out about cancer and measures for prevention, but that would require workforce and finance,” said Dr Wahid al Kharousi, Chairman of Oman Cancer Association.

If breast cancer is detected in the final stage, its treatment costs around RO 180,000 to RO 200,000. If detected early, the cost would be around RO 8,000.

“The medication is expensive. We do not calculate the cost of the doctors, nurses, services, and management of clinics and hospitals,” pointed out Dr Wahid.

Point to be noted that not just women are vulnerable to breast cancer. There are many cases in which men got breast cancer. The male ratio, however, is less.

Dr Raji Narayankutty, a member of the Oman Cancer Association Board, said, “When a male is diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important for all the women in the family to be screened, especially nieces.”

In October this year, volunteers and members of the OCA will be in major malls during the weekends and other malls during the weekdays to raise awareness about breast cancer. They will hold talk sessions with people living with cancer and their families to let them feel free to talk and raise awareness.

Participants can register for the Annual Walkathon to be held on November 1 at Qurum Natural Park.

“At Qurum City Centre we have taken a special area for the whole month. Here one can learn about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We will also have space where doctors can perform a free examination of breast cancer and teach self-examination for women below 40 years of age as more and more breast cancer cases have been detected in young girls as young as 16 to 18 years,” noted Dr Wahid.

The Walkathon will be held from 4 to 6 pm, and the symbolic walk will be less than 2 km. According to Dr Wahid, the idea of the Walkathon is to tell cancer patients that they are not alone.

“There will be an area for kids and a food court at the Qurum Natural Park. There is a need to create cancer awareness among growing children in a society where people still do not want to utter the word cancer.

We are looking at ways to make girls in secondary school aware of breast cancer because cases are found amongst women below 40 years of age and even school-going children.

Awareness and teaching them self breast examination monthly is the only way to tackle it.”

There is good news, and that is people are coming with early diagnosis.

“Our awareness programme in 22 years has managed to show that the results are tangible and the results are excellent. About 22 years ago, the third and fourth stages of breast cancer cases were as high as 85 per cent. Now it is only 30 per cent. Two decades ago, first-grade breast cancer cases were only 8 to 10 per cent. Now it is over 70 per cent.

This is why we brought the theme ‘Towards Life’, because when one has an early diagnosis, one can have life,” said Dr Wahid.


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