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Bahrain breast cancer drive aims to raise $2.7m

Manama, October 3, 2009

A major campaign that aims to raise almost BD1 million ($2.65 million) for breast cancer treatment gets underway this month in Bahrain.

Think Pink Bahrain has set itself the ambitious target of raising enough money to buy state-of-the-art equipment that will revolutionise the country's breast cancer screening programme.

The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment, worth BD880,000, will be donated to Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) and is the main focus of a two-year fundraising drive that kicks off this month.

It will be the country's first MRI dedicated to detecting breast cancer and is described as the best screening tool for the condition in young women, according to SMC Oncology Centre head Dr Shubbar Mohammed.

He said this was particularly important for Bahrain, where it is more common to find breast cancer in women aged in their 20s and 30s than in the West - where it is more commonly found in those aged 50 and above.

'In Europe and the US the best screening programme is mammograms and it is accurate for women above 50, but in younger women it is less accurate because the breasts are more dense,' Dr Mohammed told our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.

'In Bahrain we need to screen women at the age of 30 and above, but if we expose them again and again to a low dose radiation (which is what happens with a mammogram) then we may see the onset of radiation induced cancer.

'A mammogram is not good for our country, an MRI is more accurate and has no risk - but we don't have MRI screening yet, only diagnostic screening where we still use mammograms.

'MRI has other purposes - it can be used to locate the exact area of the cancer, which means we don't have to remove much tissue.'

In addition to purchasing an MRI, other targets of the Think Pink Bahrain campaign include raising money for Bahraini nurses and physiotherapists at SMC to be trained as lymphedema specialists.

It costs about BD756 to send each person on the three-week course in Germany.

'Lymphadema massage is a special type of technique that helps to drain the fluid that gets built up if you have a mastectomy,' said Think Pink Bahrain founder and chairwoman Jules Sprakel.

'There is no lymphadema specialist in Bahrain, but by 2010 we will make sure there are nurses who are experts in this.'

In collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI-MUB), Think Pink is also sponsoring a two-year Master's degree in nursing with a major in breast cancer for a Bahraini nurse at SMC.

That two-year course alone costs around BD8,000 and some of the money for these initiatives will be raised at two golf tournaments and a gala dinner taking place this month.

The non-profit organisation is now preparing for its first Men's Night Golf Tournament, which will take place at the Royal Golf Club, Riffa, on October 18 at 6.30 pm.

This will be followed by the fourth annual Ladies Golf Tournament at the same venue on October 21, starting at 8 am.

The tournaments are open to 100 women and 45 men and entrance costs BD20 for members or BD35 to BD50 for guests.

Sponsorship ranges from BD100 to BD500 per hole.

'The original concept was to have a ladies golf tournament, but the men also wanted to get involved so we thought we would hold one for them this year,' said Ms Sprakel.

'The men and women will be wearing pink T-shirts sponsored by Optima.'

Think Pink Bahrain, now in its fifth year, has already raised BD120,000 for the Bahrain Cancer Society and another BD30,000 in kind for the community. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Breast cancer | drive | Think Pink |

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