Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women around the world. Now the wife of U.S. President George Bush is traveling through the Middle East in an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer in the region. Jim Bertel has the story.
Seventy percent of the breast cancer diagnosed among Middle East women is diagnosed in the later stages of the disease.
One cancer survivor explains, "I was diagnosed in an advance stage. Stage three."
The World Health Organization says breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths among women in Saudi Arabia. In many parts of the Arab world the disease is still embarrassing and a taboo topic that blocks many women from getting diagnosed early and treated effectively.
Dubai's leading breast cancer surgeon, Houriya Kasim, says, "We do all the things that are supposedly protective. We have our children young, we have lots of children and in Islam we are meant to breast feed our children for two years each; we do all these things and we still get breast cancer, and we still get it younger than everybody else."
So first lady Laura Bush is in the Middle East this week in an effort to bring attention to the disease. She is scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan. In addition to meeting cancer survivors, advocating breast cancer awareness and visiting research centers, Laura Bush is scheduled to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah.
Laura Bush's mother and grandmother suffered from breast disease. The first lady started volunteering for breast cancer charities 25 years ago.