According to various studies, breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women.
Many campaigns, seminars and conferences are conducted around the globe to create awareness about this life-threatening disease.
Health awareness is escalating in Saudi Arabia particularly after a royal decree was issued by Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman in May, supporting the rights of women in all aspects including healthcare.
Last year, the College of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University (KAU) established the first unit of health empowerment and rights with the belief that ignorance of these rights can contribute to morbidity and mortality leading to misconceptions about women’s rights not only in Saudi Arabia and in Islam.
Sheikh Al-Amoudi Center of Excellence in Breast Cancer Care and Health Empowerment and Rights launched the first of its kind project on “Reproductive Health Rights for Cancer Patients.”
When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, treatment and management becomes a priority for the doctor. However, when the patient survives this disease, he or she finds out that their fertility is jeopardized. Based on studies it shows that in more than 50 percent of the cases, the fertility option is never discussed with cancer patients. The KAU project aims to empower patients with knowledge about options by offering proper counseling before the start of cancer therapy.
“The objective of our project is to empower the community and health care providers with options of preserving fertility before starting chemotherapy or radiotherapy,” said Dr. Bandar Khutbi.
Professor Samia Al-Amoudi, the head and founder of the project who is also a breast cancer survivor, explains the need to consult fertility specialists before starting cancer treatment.
“It provides true hope in a way that you are not a victim but a survivor and a new life is waiting you amidst all the suffering. It provides guidance to the types of modern medical interventions like sperm freezing, oocyte freezing and embryo freezing. Hence, when the patient finishes his or her cancer treatment and seek counsel from their treating physician, they are ready to go back to their treating IVF physicians and have the embryo transfer,” said Al-Amoudi, herself a breast cancer survivor.
“It is important to show patients the positive side,” Al-Amoudi said. She shared the story of Moaza Al-Matrooshi from Dubai who gave birth in London after doctors restored her fertility using frozen ovarian tissue removed when she was a young child before undergoing treatment for beta thalassemia.
The first phase of this project focuses on spreading awareness and advocating these rights. The second phase will launch the first counseling clinic under the care of oncologists, fertility specialists, health empowerment and rights team at Al-Amoudi Center of Excellence.