stories of hope

Burjeel Hospital’s timely diagnosis and treatment puts a breast cancer patient back on the road to recovery

United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi – 29 March 2016: Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer seen in women today. The UAE's health authorities also state that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer can occur at any age but the risk of breast cancer increases after women turn 40 years of age. Despite the serious implications of the condition, awareness, timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help patients fight the disease successfully. In fact, the five-year survival rate of breast cancer is more than 90 per cent when caught early.

These factors played an important role in the treatment of a 58-year- old breast cancer patient at Burjeel Hospital, Ms. Amal Omran (AO). Ms. Omran works with the hospital as a guest service executive. "Ms. Omran developed pain in both her breasts in October 2015, following which she consulted Burjeel Hospital's obstetrics and gynecology department. An ultrasound and mammogram was carried out to determine the reason and potential source for the symptoms.

"Based on the findings and in line with international standards, the results presented as benign changes in the breast tissue. A follow-up was suggested after six months to keep track of any further changes in the tissue, or recurring symptoms," said Prof. Dr. Tahar Benhidjeb, Consultant - General Surgery, Chair of Surgery and Deputy Medical Director, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi.

However, a month later in November, Ms. Omran visited her doctor with a complaint of persistent pain in the right breast. The doctor suggested a biopsy of the suspected growth. The biopsy revealed that the mass was a carcinoma, which is a cancer that affects the cells in an organ's tissues.

"Based on the results, a team of doctors, including a surgeon, oncologist, gynecologist, histopathologist and radiologist, was consulted to determine the best approach in treating the cancer. Ms. Omran was also evaluated with a computed tomography (CT) scan, a diagnostic test, and a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, an imaging test, to check whether the tumor had spread to other parts of the body.

"The tests found that the cancer had not spread and was localized in the breast. The team, therefore, decided that the surgical removal of the cancerous lump and axillary lymph nodes was the best method to get rid of the cancer and stop it from spreading to neighboring organs," said Prof. Dr. Benhidjeb.

Prof. Dr. Benhidjeb and his team operated on Ms. Omran immediately to remove the tumor. However, on careful evaluation, it was observed that it was not possible to totally extricate or remove the entire cancerous growth without any residue. Hence, the recommendation of the team was to complement the surgical removal of the tumor with a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for optimal results. The vascular surgeon also implanted a venous port system to proceed with the chemotherapy.

"Ms. Omran responded well to the surgery and is currently undergoing chemotherapeutical treatment; she is managing it very well. She will also undergo radiation therapy to ensure a complete therapy regimen offering maximum benefits. We anticipate a full recovery and are doing our best to ensure she receives the finest care to help her regain her health," said Prof. Dr. Benhidjeb.

Ms. Omran expressed her gratitude to the hospital's oncology team saying that their timely intervention had saved her life. She said, "Prof. Dr. Benhidjeb and the team of doctors have been very diligent right from the diagnosis of my condition to the surgery to remove the tumour and subsequent treatment to treat the residual cancer cells. This has helped build my confidence and allayed my fears. The team explained every aspect of the treatment and kept me comfortable throughout the procedure. I am currently undergoing chemotherapeutical treatment and consecutive radiation therapy at the hospital and am confident that I will fight the cancer successfully under Prof. Dr. Benhidjeb's supervision. This care and concern for patients is what makes Burjeel Hospital a natural choice especially when you are faced with dealing with something as serious as cancer."