Mohamed Shaalan, Professor of surgical oncology, was honored by Markus Leitner, the Swiss ambassador to Cairo, and Nabil Nassar, the Chairman of the Swiss Egyptian Business Association, on December 8, for his considerable contribution to combating breast cancer in Egypt.
Shaalan is the founder of the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt (BCFE), which is perceived as the first and largest association of its kind in Egypt.
According to the BCFE’s statistics, breast cancer represents more than 29 percent of women’s cancer cases in the world and 37.5 percent of women's cancer in Egypt.
Since its inception in 2004, the non-governmental organization holds a prominent role in changing the community culture's approach to breast cancer. It also raises awareness on the devastating disease among Egyptian women coming from different social and economic backgrounds.
Additionally, the foundation offers treatment and rehabilitation services for the underprivileged diagnosed with the disease.
During the ceremony, the Swiss ambassador said that communities cannot achieve progress and the economy cannot flourish without empowering women and devoting more attention to their health rights.
"It is a great pleasure and a pride for the Swiss Embassy, the Swiss Egyptian Businessmen Association and the Swiss community to support combating breast cancer in Egypt this year, also to provide assistance to the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt regarding…its effectiveness, distinguished role and…inveterate reputation as the first leading NGO in combating this disease in Egypt,” Leitner added.
Deep-rooted misconceptions about cancer are widespread in Egyptian society, which is an obstacle in the fight against the disease.
“Though a lot of progress has been achieved in educating people about the disease in Egypt over the last decade, the country still has a long way to go,” Shaalan told Egypt Independent.
“Women fear a cancer diagnosis because they mistakenly believe that the only cure for the disease is a mastectomy, so they are reluctant to have a breast exam in the first place.”
Shaalan is also a board member of Baheya, the only charity hospital in Egypt to be entirely dedicated to breast cancer treatment.
The hospital covers all the expenses necessary on the long journey to overcome breast cancer, including medical imaging, chemotherapy, surgery and counseling.
Breast cancer treatment costs range anywhere between LE10,000 to LE300,000, depending on the type of therapy needed, as well as the number of surgeries required and how often patients relapse.
Every three minutes, a new breast cancer diagnosis is made around the world and this form of cancer is the most common among Egyptian women, according to Shaalan.
The ceremony was attended by several top officials, diplomatic personalities, businessmen, artists and other public figures, including International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr, Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Wali, Hala El Said, the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University and Munir Zahid, a board member of the Central Bank of Egypt.