Public Release: 

Regional breast cancer guidelines needed in the Middle East and North Africa

When applying international cancer guidelines, one size does not fit all

ecancermedicalscience

Researchers surveying breast cancer management in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have identified significant barriers to applying international guidelines in this area, and are calling for localised best practice.

MedicalSurveys-17 Research Group, a group of young oncologists working in different institutes across the Middle East, have established the Middle East and North Africa Breast Cancer Guidelines Project.

Surveying breast cancer management in the MENA region, these researchers have identified barriers to applying international guidelines to their unique setting. The results of their survey have today been published in the open-access medical journal ecancermedicalscience.

Whilst international cancer management guidelines are considered best practice, the study shows that they do not reflect specific challenges faced in the MENA region. These challenges include younger age at presentation, lack of national breast screening programmes, lack of reliable data registries, and socioeconomic factors.

The need for specific regional guidelines for the management of breast cancer was agreed upon by 90.6% of survey responders.

"One of the main factors affecting breast cancer patients and their outcome is the availability of facilities," says corresponding author Dr Adel Aref, a medical oncologist and PhD student at the University of Adelaide, Australia. "Regional guidelines should be developed with an understanding of available resources and needs."

There are a number of cancer societies in the MENA region, but they're missing a unifying effort to improve breast cancer management in the MENA region as a whole, says Dr Aref. That's why he conducted this survey of healthcare professionals to determine the best way to start.

"There must be more concern on how to give breast cancer patients the best outcome when there is a shortage of care facilities," says Dr Aref. "Clinical trials should be designed for specific problems that we face with our patients in the MENA region - they should consider cost-effectiveness, as well as trying to improve outcomes from limited facilities. That's the cornerstone to improve breast cancer outcome in these areas."

The authors suggest that the existing European example of collaborative work in cancer research could be adapted in the MENA region. Working groups and societies would provide one method of gathering knowledge, which could be supported by fundraising and continuing medical education.

Dr Aref stresses that his findings should be built upon as part of a collaborative, region-wide effort.

"We do think that the improvement in breast cancer management and in breast cancer research in the MENA region will only be achieved by a strong and dedicated collaboration between all the societies, and individuals in the MENA region."

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Editor's Notes

This information is embargoed until 15:00 GMT on the 30th November, 2017.

Dr Adel Aref is available for comment.

For a copy of the final version of the paper, to set up an interview or for more information please contact Karen Watts, Head of Communications, ecancer (karen@ecancer.org)

Citation information and links:

Fayed Reham, Hamza Dina, Abdallah Heba, Kelany Mohamed, Tahseen Amira and Aref Adel T (2017) Do we need regional guidelines for breast cancer management in the MENA region? MENA Breast Cancer Guidelines project ecancer 11 783

https://doi.org/10.3332/ecancer.2017.783

About ecancermedicalscience (ecancer.org)

ecancermedicalscience (ecancer) is the official open access journal of the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI) and the European Institute of Oncology (IEO), Milan.

The journal was established in 2007 by Professor Umberto Veronesi and Professor Gordon McVie with the mission to break down the financial barriers to accessing cancer research and education.

The journal is not for profit and only charges authors an article publication fee if they have specific funding for publishing. So far over 2000 authors have published for free. The journal is funded by the Swiss based ECMS foundation, educational grants, sponsorship and charitable donations.

http://ecancer.org/journal/11/783.php

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