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‘Listen to your body’ a key theme for WOW Film Fair Middle East as experts combine to raise ovarian, breast cancer awareness

Organisers of the film festival which champions the role of women in the movie industry have made the fight against ovarian and breast cancer a key theme for the event which returns to cinemas in Dubai this week.

Taking place from 3-8 March, the World of Women’s Cinema – WOW Film Fair Middle East has partnered with leading doctors in Dubai and research-based biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to raise awareness of the diseases which are estimated to kill hundreds of women a year in the GCC.

A special screening of a film on breast cancer, ‘Brest Friends’, at the Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road, Dubai on 4 March will be followed by an interactive discussion entitled ‘Listen to your Body: Cancer Awareness’ featuring a panel of experts who will address the audience and answer questions.

The panel will consist of Dr. Houriya Kazim, Medical Director and Consultant Specialist Breast Surgeon at the Well Woman Clinic, Dubai and the UAE’s first female surgeon; and His Excellency Dr. Amin Hussain Al Amiri, from the UAE Ministry of Health among others.

“The WOW Film Fair Middle East is a charity event and this year we’re placing a big focus on raising awareness of cancer through the ‘Listen to your Body’ initiative,” said the event’s Founder and Director, Hermoine Macura, CEO of Straight Street Media.

“Cancer is one of the major killers of women in the UAE. It affects all women of various nationalities.

Our aim is to give people the chance to learn more about the disease and how early detection can save lives.”

Ovarian cancer can occur at any age, although women who are 55 years and older are at a higher risk. Around 240,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year globally[1] and approximately 140,000 women will die from the disease each year[2].

Early indicators of the disease manifest symptoms typically associated with common conditions of womanhood, such as bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, and difficulty of eating or feeling full quickly, alongside unexplained weight loss occurring in later stages of the disease. Due to this misappropriation, patients witnessing symptoms will either not visit a health care professional or will be misdiagnosed[3]. The importance of increasing public awareness in the UAE is vital as early diagnosis and treatment is crucial, given that the five-year survival rate of late diagnosis is a mere 30%, as opposed to around 90% at Stage I[4].

Dr. Houriya Kazim said: “Breast cancer is the number one cancer killer of women in developed countries, accounting for 22% of all cancers. Sadly, its incidence is on the rise globally, including in the UAE where its pattern is particularly disturbing.

“In the developed world, breast cancer is a post-menopausal disease with 80% of cases occurring in women over the age of 50. In the MENA area and the Indian Subcontinent, we see breast cancer in younger women, at least a decade younger, and we also see more aggressive types of breast cancer. As a result, women from these countries tend to present late. This is why I founded Brest Friends, with an aim to raise the national consciousness about this disease. We are also very excited about our partnership with the Al Jalila Foundation so that we can conduct locally-based research into the epidemiology of the disease.”

The WOW Film Fair Middle East is supported by the Australian government’s Council for Australian Arab Relations (CAAR). With all ticket proceeds being donated to the Al Jalila Foundation, the festival is held in association with VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates, with films also showing at various locations such as A4 cinema at Al Serkal Avenue.

Al Jalila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisation, was established by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to position Dubai at the forefront of medical innovation.

The fair will showcase 31 films created predominantly by female filmmakers, producers and screenwriters from 24 countries across five continents. Health is a big focus every year in the festival.

WOW monthly membership also allows individuals to support the fair and access the entire programme, including exclusive workshops, special screenings, seminars and networking events with regional filmmakers.

To find out the latest show information, sign up for a membership and book tickets, visit VOX cinemas, wowmiddleeast.com or follow the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

[1] S.A. Farghaly (ed). Advances in Diagnosis and Management of Ovarian Cancer 2014; 155.

[2] Source: http://wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-specific-cancers/ovarian-cancer-statistics Reference: Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin DM, Forman D, Bray, F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.1, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide.

[3] Source: http://www.foundationforwomenscancer.org/about-the-foundation/allied-support-group/ovarian-cancer-symptoms-consensus-statement/. Reference: Goff BA, Mandel LS, Melancon CH, Muntz HG. Frequency of symptoms of ovarian cancer

[4] https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/ovary.html

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