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Oman needs more mobile cancer screening units, says senior doctor
July 11, 2018 | 10:23 PM
by Times News Service
While the OCA, in collaboration with local health centres, sends an MMU across Oman to spread breast cancer awareness and detect cases early, more units are required, according to Raya Salim Al Harthy, Director of Administration at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of the Wattayah Health Centre. -Supplied photo
 
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Muscat: A senior doctor at Oman’s public medical health sector has praised the Mobile Mammography Unit (MMU) of the Oman Cancer Association (OCA) and has called for more services of the same nature to be deployed.

Mobile cancer screening units help detect cases early, allowing doctors to save people in a timely manner. While the OCA, in collaboration with local health centres, sends an MMU across Oman to spread breast cancer awareness and detect cases early, more units are required, according to Raya Salim Al Harthy, Director of Administration at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of the Wattayah Health Centre.

“We can only take 20 people, because the machine can only afford to take a maximum of 22 patients in a day,” she told the Times of Oman. “We actually have many patients, but we cannot afford to take more than that. If we had a big machine that would help us do screenings, that would be fine. We have patients from morning throughout the day.”

“We are planning to contact the president of the Oman Cancer Association to ask him to provide a machine that can handle more than 20 patients or if we can keep it for more days, because two days are not enough,” added Al Harthy. “Maybe we can arrange for it in the next month or the next two months, because this MMU is needed everywhere.”



The OCA operates its MMU on a rotational schedule so everybody can benefit from it, and while Al Harthy hailed the move, she said it was important for more such units to be brought into service so more screenings could take place. “This is for the benefit of all of Oman, and this MMU is now quite well known because there is a lot of awareness being spread across campaigns and on the TV,” she said. “This is the second time the MMU is coming here. It had previously come here four years ago.”

“We are serving patients, but we serve only ladies in the MMU,” she added. We are trained to provide the best care because detection is better than cure. To do these tests for the screening of breasts, it’s important for ladies to know that after the age of 40, there is an increased chance of getting cancer. That is why we would prefer it if every lady could do the screening.”

“Nowadays, people are aware of the importance of breast cancer screening because education has been expanded and there is a lot of awareness, and this MMU is not just serving this area, but also the interior, and areas across the whole Sultanate,” Al Harthy said.

She was also quick to share advice on what to do if the screening detects the presence of cancerous cells. “The next step after screening is that if there is a possibility of having cancer, even in the early stages, we advise people to go and get a check-up in the biggest hospital,” said Al Harthy. “There are people in this department in Khoula Hospital who will first look into the screening, and then you can have more advanced tests, such as an MRI. Then, the doctors there will send you to the surgeon. He will decide based on the screening what needs to be done.”

“This screening is free for all, for both locals and expats,” she added. “On Wednesday, they went to Azaiba, and after this, they will be going to the interior, so we are planning to ask them if we can have this back in a week’s time. Cancer sometimes does not look like cancer, it often looks like other diseases such as diabetes or hypertension; so people better get screened. They need to screen for cancer, for all types of it, because cases of cancer are on the rise.”

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