Men in the saddle for cancer screenings.
And just three days into the ride, which sees volunteers on horseback travel around the Emirates to hospitals and clinics where medics offer the screenings, nearly a quarter of the people being screened were men - showing that social barriers have been broken down.
Organised by the Friends of Cancer Patients, the 10-day ride hopes to screen 5,000 people. Founder of the Pink Caravan, HE Ameera Bin Karam, said: "There was an amazing response from men to the early detection examinations, with 358 men having undergone the examination out of the 1,635 people who were examined in the first three days, a full 22 per cent of the total number of screenings.
"This growing number of men being screened reinforces our belief that the perceived social barriers were completely groundless and unjustified. The Pink Caravan has managed to correct social misconceptions and dispel damaging myths."
Medical director of the campaign, Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, said that for every 100 cases of breast cancer worldwide one victim will be male. She said: "We brought the Pink Caravan forward this year to coincide with World Cancer Day (February 4). The theme was all about dispelling myths. So one of the important myths we want to tackle is that cancer is not contagious. Yes, you can be cured from breast cancer if you get it treated early and of course the biggest myth -- that men do not get breast cancer.
"There are risk factors for men that we educate about. There is family history, genetics which you can't do anything about and we focus on what people can do to help prevent it. Also obesity is a huge thing, it increases the female hormone level in the man's body and that can cause cancer. Smoking, and having enlarged breasts are all things men need to
be aware of.
"It is much easier to discover breast cancer in men than in women just because of the size of the breast tissue. It never occurs to men that a lump might be something that they need to go and investigate.
"Breast cancer in men is more aggressive and we need to catch these cases early. We found it quite interesting that 22 per cent of the people who came on board this year were men. We have four medical teams with seven doctors and 20 nursing staff and healthcare helpers and we have a fully-dedicated team of just men - a male doctor and male staff."
No men have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the three years of the Pink Caravan, but one was recalled for a biopsy last year which showed a lump was benign.
The caravan left from Sharjah and has travelled to Al Dhaid, Masafi, Fujairah, Khorfakkan, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman so far.
It will be in Dubai on Sunday and will go to Al Ain on Monday and Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Keeping with the theme of Arabia, the horses which accompany the medical teams are a deliberate attempt to attract attention and in the process, stimulate conversation around cancer in an otherwise culturally conservative community. The aims are to provide screening and awareness, lobby for the creation of the first UAE National Cancer Registry, and raise funds to purchase and operate a state of the art mobile mammography unit.
For more information visit www.pinkcaravan.ae.
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