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NACA Needs You 2

Snippets from NACA ’ s Diary

New Vaccine for Cervical Cancer

Prostate Cancer

From the NACA Photo Albom

ABC of Health

Take Home Message

The National Association for Cancer Awareness Regular Examination and Early Diagnosis Saves Lives


Issue 3/11



Upcoming Events NACA Open Day

27 March 2011 Walkathon

25 October 2011 If you have any question that you would like to be answered, please do not hesitate to contact us by one of the means shown below and we will try our best to post them with answers here in future issues or contact you directly.

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR CANCER AWARENESS (NACA) P.O. Box 736 Athaiba Postal Code 130 Sultanate of Oman Tel. No.: (968) 24498716 Fax No.: (968) 24498726 Toll Free No.: 800 77477 Email: Website: DAR AL HANAN Tel. No.: (968) 24501770 Fax No.: (968) 24501179 Email:

NACA‟s mobile mammography unit (MMU), first launched in November 2009, aims to provide free mammography screening to all women in Oman based on the fact that regular examination and early diagnosis lead to a better chance for combatting cancer. The MMU took seven years to complete, cost RO 338,000 to build and annual maintenance costs run to more than RO 150,000. The MMU is now on its second tour of the wilayats and more than 2,400 mammograms have been completed for the screening programme. Of those screened, two women were officially diagnosed with breast cancer at The Royal Hospital and two more diagnosed at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital. During 2010 the MMU was stationed at different health centres in the capital area and throughout Oman, from Salalah to Musandam, including those in Bahla, Barka, Ibri, Izki, Nizwa, Rustaq, Quriyat, Saham, Sohar and Sur. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the MOH radiography staff and in particular Dr Asim Darwish and Dr Hussam Al Kindi who generously donate their time to read the mammograms. We also thank all the staff at the health centres for their support and all those who have worked to make the MMU such a success. For details of when the MMU will be in your area contact the NACA main office or check the schedule on our website. For women over the age of 40, regular mammogram exams are recommended every two years and all women should carry out monthly self-examination of the breast a few days after the menstrual cycle.

March 2011


The Dar Al Hanan or „Home Away From Home‟ project is NACA‟s latest outreach initiative. It is a home for children undergoing outpatient treatment for cancer and was set up to help families having to travel from all over the Sultanate to the Oncology Centre at the Royal Hospital. For some of these families, the cost of accommodation and transport created such difficulties that their children were not able to attend as regularly as they should and this adversely affected their treatment. Something had to be done and within the incredibly short time frame of just one year, Dar Al Hanan opened its doors. This „home away from home‟ not only provides accommodation for 14 families, with up to four family members, including the patient, being housed in individual rooms, but also all meals are supplied, psychological support given, plus transport to and from the hospital. Above all, this house caters for the children. There is a library, toys and computers in a playroom which was designed and decorated by local high school children, and various organised activities to keep them entertained and occupied. In addition, there is a part-time teacher available for those children who are missing out on school. It is two months since opening and the families that have already stayed at Dar Al Hanan have been very happy with the facilities and grateful that this gives them one thing less to worry about during what is such a difficult time. With its beautiful flower lights in the bedrooms, wonderful murals and brightly coloured play areas, Dar Al Hanan conveys a warm and welcoming atmosphere to enchant all who visit it.

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We urge you, your friends and family to join NACA today and to renew your membership annually. The many projects and activities organised by NACA can only take place with the generous donations of our members, volunteers, supporters and sponsors. Thank you and please continue to support our events. NACA FINANCES 2010 All businesses require funding for their activities. Just like other charities, the National Association for Cancer Awareness needs funding for a range of purposes. Most of our finances come from individual donators and without their generosity NACA could not continue to achieve its objectives. Donations for the year 2010 came to more than one hundred thousand rials. Of that, more than RO 40,000 was needed for staff salaries and to pay for utilities for the Dar Al Hanan house. Nearly RO 10,000 was spent on staffing the Mobile Mammography Unit and RO 15,000 for the NACA office staff. Full time, paid staff are an essential part of what NACA does but on top of that there are many others who volunteer their time and services and their contribution is priceless. As well as for the major projects, funding is also needed for the day-to-day running of NACA, including administration expenses, utility bills, furniture and fixtures, equipment and cars, stationery and office expenses, gifts for children with cancer, audit fees, repairs, paying for suppliers and other miscellaneous expenses such as publishing costs. Once again, we would like to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who have so generously donated to this worthy cause.

Snippets from NACA’s Diary Along with the monthly Clinical Breast Examination on the first Tuesday of every month, the cancer survivor‟s meetings and other talks and get-togethers, NACA has been busy. February 2010: At Bait Al Baranda there was a photography exhibition and sale of Jafar Islah‟s book „Children are Angels‟. Kuwait-based artist and journalist Jafar had generously donated his photographs and books to raise funds for the Dar Al Hanan project. Some of his beautiful photos of children now adorn the walls of Dar Al Hanan. March 2010: NACA held a two-day conference “Living with Cancer. Coping with Emotion and Change”. There were talks on prevalent cancers in Oman, pain control, volunteerism and palliative care, plus workshops on cancer support and breast examination. The conference, held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, was well attended and proved to be both instructive and thought provoking. September 2010: During Ramadan, the annual Eid party took place at the Royal Hospital with gifts for all the children on the paediatric oncology ward. October 2010: October is breast cancer awareness month and the book “Frothy Coffee” was launched by author Penny Destro, with all proceeds from the book sales going to the MMU. This book, a collection of “coffee-break stories and rhymes for women”, is currently on sale at NACA main office, Al Madina Gallery, Caribou Coffee and other outlets including the Family Bookshops. January 2011: On January 4th the inauguration of Dar Al Hanan took place under the auspices of Dr Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Sa‟eedi, Minister of Health, and attended by Her Highness Sayyida Dr Muna bint Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, the patron of NACA. February 2011: NACA‟s annual Hug-ABear event took place in the grounds of the Royal Hospital for children undergoing cancer treatment to mark World Cancer Day, which is on the 4th of February.

NEW VACCINE FOR CERVICAL CANCER A new vaccine against cervical cancer (cancer of the lower, narrow part of the uterus) will soon be available here in Oman. (For details on where to get the vaccine contact the NACA office.) uterus The most common risk factor (in 95% of cases) for cervical cancer is infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). All types of HPV are transmitted sexually and can infect the cervix.


Vaccination The vaccine is targeted at girls and women of age 9 to 26 because the vaccine only works if given before HPV infection occurs. It is best to get the vaccine before the start of sexual activity. The vaccine consists of a series of three shots, with shot two coming 2 months after the first, and shot three coming 6 months after the first. Screening The Papanicolaou test, or pap smear for cervical cancer screening has also greatly reduced the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer. It is recommended that cervical cancer screening should begin approximately three years after the onset of vaginal intercourse and no later than twenty years of age. If premalignant disease or cervical cancer is detected early, it can be treated relatively easily. The HPV test is a newer technique for cervical cancer detection which detects the presence of human papillomavirus infection in the cervix.

PROSTATE CANCER The prostate is a small gland in a man‟s reproductive system.

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Who is at risk of prostate cancer?  Men above the age of 50 years or those with a family history of prostate cancer.  Men who eat food rich in animal fat have an increased enlarged prostate risk while eating food rich in fruits and vegetable may decrease the risk. How can prostate cancer be detected early? Men should start screening by the age of 50 years by having an annual blood test to measure the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood, even if there are no symptoms. Symptoms to watch out for:  passing urine more often than before  having to get up at night to pass urine  difficulty in starting the flow of urine  inability to urinate  burning urination  difficult erection or painful ejaculation  blood in the urine or semen  pain in the bones If a man has any of the above symptoms he should go to his doctor for a check-up. The doctor will examine the prostate and may do a blood test to measure the PSA level. What are the results of treatment? If cancer is discovered at an early stage when it is still within the prostate, the chance of cure is over 90%.

From the NACA Photo Album

Visit by the wife of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Dar Al Hanan and to the Mobile Mammography Unit (January 2011)

Spreading awareness and selling merchandise to raise funds for NACA

NACA‟s promotion of Cancer Awareness in Omani schools

Girls at Muscat International School give donation to NACA

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An ABC of Health Each issue of this newsletter will look at a variety of ways in which you can improve your health, try to prevent cancer or help while undergoing treatment for cancer. N.B. If you are on cancer therapy or any other treatment, do not take any supplements without first checking with your doctor.

A is for ...



Latest research claims that for adults a daily dose of aspirin can help ward off heart disease and cancer. It is claimed that taking 75mg (no more) of aspirin daily for 5 years cuts the risk of dying from bowel cancer by a third and the risk of developing the disease by 25 per cent. Further research is on-going to see if it could help reduce the occurrence of other cancers. Watch this space!

This is a root that the Chinese use as an immune enhancer and as a tonic. It helps support the immune system during chemotherapy and may reduce side effects such as poor appetite and depression.

Apples These common fruits have uncommon powers. Chlorogenic and caffeic acids found in apples have anticancer properties. Raw, cooked or juiced – there are many ways to benefit from apples.

Almonds These nuts are rich in a number of anti-cancer factors. They contain protease inhibitors which can inhibit tumour growth. You should always make sure your almonds are fresh.

Alfalfa The leaves and sprouting seeds of this plant are extremely nutritious. They contain protective phytoestrogens and have a general anti-tumour effect. Alfalfa is also rich in fibre which binds to carcinogens. French scientists have shown that eating alfalfa can reduce tissue damage caused by radiotherapy. You can sprinkle alfalfa sprouts on salads.

Vitamin A Vitamin A is one of the key antioxidant vitamins. It is protective against damage to the mucous membranes of the mouth and intestinal lining during chemotherapy. However, in excess it can be toxic! Sources of vitamin A include liver, cod-liver oil, egg yolk, green leafy vegetables and carrots.

Acidophilus This is the generic term for a number of Lactobacilli species of „friendly‟ bacteria. They help to support the immune system but one of the main anti-cancer effects is to neutralize harmful bile acids. EDITORIAL TEAM Sally Perry, Latifa Al-Kharusi

Aloe Vera This is extremely soothing and encourages tissues to repair quickly. The juice squeezed directly from the plant can reduce irritation and the sunburn effect often experienced as a result of radiation therapy. You can also buy aloe vera juice to drink. It can help repair the digestive tract which may be damaged during chemotherapy. It should be drunk diluted as it is too strong in undiluted form.

Aromatherapy This is the use of essential oils. You can add them to water or use them in an oil burner at home. A few drops added to a bath just before bedtime can help you relax after a stressful day. Lavender, geranium, marjoram and ylang-ylang oils are all calming. Be careful using oils in the bath if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy as some oils can cause skin irritation.

Awareness No one knows your body better than you do. Be aware of what is normal for you and go to your local health centre for a check-up if you notice any changes (such as any unusual lumps, changes in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss).

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Take Home Message from this Issue Women over the age of 40 should have regular mammogram exams every two years. All women should carry out monthly self-examination of the breast, after the menstrual cycle. Girls and unmarried woman should consider having the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Women aged 35 - 65 should have a pelvic exam and pap smear at least once every two years. Every man above the age of 50 years should do a blood PSA test once every year . Remember: Regular examination and early diagnosis lead to a better chance for cure so be self aware.

CONTRIBUTORS Dr Assel Al-Taee (Obstetrics & Gynaecology), Dr Wahid Al-Kharusi

English newsletter - Mar 2011  

English newsletter - Mar 2011