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Cervical Cancer Still Represents a Major Problem for Women in UAE

Abu DhabiThe is still the second cause for cancer-related deaths among women in despite the availability of its effective vaccine. Dr Jalaa Taher, senior program manager at the Health Authority () said during the 2nd National Women’s Health Conference “An average of 55 new cases are diagnosed every year across the UAE. And because the symptoms of cervical cancer like bleeding and discharges appear very late, and there is usually no way to assist a patient who has been diagnosed with the disease in these advanced stages”. This disease is caused by the Human Papilloma virus [HPV] that is transmitted sexually.

Dr Taher added “However, it takes nearly 20 years for the virus to make cells cancerous. This is why women must screen themselves every three to five years, especially as the cancer is 95 per cent preventable if detected early. In addition, young women who have not yet had intercourse can benefit from the vaccination that has proven to be effective against most forms of the disease”. Dr Ritu Nambiar, chief of service for Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Al Rahba Hospital revealed “Screening for the cancer involves a test known as the Pap smear, which indicates abnormalities in cells. While prevalence for the cancer in the Middle East is 4.8 among 100,000 of the population, it is reported at 9.9 per 100,000 people in the UAE, making it the third most prevalent cancer among women in the UAE. But the disease is fully preventable, so women should be made aware that they can be almost being fully protected against it if they get vaccinated and screened”.

“An awareness campaign about the disease would be launched by the HAAD in the first quarter of 2012. We have been vaccinating female 11th graders in the emirate since 2008. Free vaccinations are also available through Thiqa insurance for all Emiratis. We are now working to roll out these free vaccinations for expatriates next year” Dr Taher commented.

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