On the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Schlumberger launched its annual breast cancer awareness hybrid event in collaboration with the As-Salam International Hospital on Thursday, October 28. The event, which was hosted by Schlumberger Connect Women Egypt chapter, aimed to underline the importance of early detection of breast cancer and spread awareness about how to deal with this disease.

Heba El-Karrar, Marketing, Communication and Stewardship Lead at Schlumberger Egypt and East Mediterranean, opened the session expressing her pleasure for presenting the event. “We’ve held this event every year for the last five years, and will continue to repeat it annually to help spread knowledge and awareness about Breast Cancer,” El-Karrar said.

On the same context, Sherif Bayoumy, Managing Director Egypt, Sudan and East Mediterranean GeoUnit at Schlumberger, who joined the session virtually, opened his speech highlighting that “we have this session every year in Egypt to primarily to remind ourselves and our beloved ones of the importance of the early detection of such disease.” Bayoumy pointed to the successful campaign that Schlumberger has launched to deal with Covid-19.

Additionally, Bayoumy said that “we started from a bottom line of approximately 10% of our Egyptian employee population vaccinated, [while] today we [have] almost 70%. Our target is to reach 100% by Q4 to be in line with the government’s and Ministry of Petroleum’s directions.” He also stated that the breast cancer awareness event may be put as a part of Schlumberger reginal health and safety program.

Ij Isikaku, Human Resources Manager at Schlumberger for Egypt, Sudan and East Mediterranean, said that this event is a good platform for such a topic and a great opportunity to support this cause. Also, Dr. Nagi Zohir, Medical Advisor at Schlumberger, stated that “our health is our main asset”. He added that early detection is the most important step to managing this disease, and the aim of this campaign is to spread awareness on how to detect and address problems with cancer early on.

During the event, a detailed presentation was introduced by Dr. Tamer Manie, consultant of Surgical Oncology at the As-Salam International Hospital and the National Cancer Institute in Cairo and a Fellow of the National Cancer Institute in Rome. He expressed his pleasure for joining this event for the third year. Dr. Manie expressed his desire to participate in these awareness campaigns in order to correct misunderstandings and misconceptions about the disease.

Dr. Manie explained the causes , risk factors and signs of breast cancer, the importance of early detection, genetic testing, new surgical options, and common myths related to breast cancer. He opened his discussion by explaining what breast cancer is, noting the difference between normal and cancer cells.

“Normal cells divide in a controlled and organized way, but stops at a certain point, whereas cancer cells start as a normal cell and some mutations happen leading to uncontrolled and unorganized and unstoppable division [forming] the tumor,” Dr.Manie explained. He elaborated that “breast is made of two components; glandular tissue where cancer mainly exists and fatty tissues in addition to lymph nodes, which spread across the whole body and they can be a channel for passing the cancer cells, so it should be treated when the body infected by cancer.”

Dr. Manie mentioned that “breast cancer contributed to about 33% of all female cancer” adding that the median age of diagnosis is 50 years old and the lifetime risk for women being diagnosed with breast cancer is currently one in every eight women. He disclosed that only 10% of breast cancer causes are genetic, while 90% of the causes are still unknown. “Genetic causes happen due to gene mutations including BRCA 1 and BRCA 2.” These mutations give women high potentials to have breast cancer by 90% and at earlier age starting from the 40s in addition to possibly causing other types of cancer.

Dr. Manie also highlighted other risk factors that may cause breast cancer, including gender, age, and family history. With regards to gender, it is worthy of noting that 100 women are more likely to get breast cancer as opposed to one man. While elaborating on age, Dr. Manie explained that older women tend to be more vulnerable to the disease.

Moving onto family history, he emphasized that the risks increase when patients have a family history where breast cancer cases are more frequent. He also highlighted other risk factors, such as exposure to estrogen hormones (applies to women) for an extended period through early menarche and late menopause, getting pregnant after the age of 30, as well as taking hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptive pills. He also emphasized that obesity and drinking alcohol could increase the chances of getting breast cancer.

However, Dr. Manie identified some factors that may decrease the risk of breast cancer, such as full-term/pre full-term pregnancy at a young age, breastfeeding, doing regular exercise, and following a healthy diet. He also discussed the signs of having breast cancer, which include an abnormal mass in the breast, skin dimpling orange peel, skin redness, nipple retraction, blood discharge from the nipple, and any change in the shape or the color of the nipple.

Dr. Manie insisted on the importance of early detection, noting that the cure rate of breast cancer is 98% at the first stage. He also elaborated that early detection will help avoid treatment that may be harmful, such as chemotherapy. Dr. Manie identified two steps for early detection, self-examination and imaging. He explained several positions which help in self-examination. Moreover, Dr. Manie emphasized the importance of genetic testing if there is a family member who has breast cancer.

Dr. Manie said that if genetic testing is positive, there are three options for treatment, including risk reduction surgeries, surveillance and hormonal treatments. He elaborated that there are certain guidelines that should be followed to decide the proper treatment for breast cancer. “The most famous is what we call NCCN guidelines. NCCN is an alliance of 31 cancer centers in the USA,”  Dr. Manie explained. He showcased various surgical options, including oncoplastic technique, skin-sparing mastectomy, and nipple-sparing mastectomy.

Dr. Manie tackled some myths related to breast cancer, such as biopsy will spread tumors, deodorants cause breast cancer, and removing the whole breast in order not to let the tumor come back. He elaborated that biopsies are important to accurately identify the type of tumor and its suitable treatment. Regarding deodorant, he said that there is no scientific proof that it causes breast cancer. The opportunity for the tumor to appear again is the same even when removing the whole breast.

At the end of the session, Dr. Manie advised the patients not to compare themselves with other cases, pointing to the fact that every case has its own diagnostic factors which affect the way of treatment. Finally the session was concluded with a Q&A session.