Purpose: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among females worldwide in general and in the Middle East and the North African region (MENA region) in particular. Management of breast cancer in the MENA region faces a lot of challenges, which include younger age at presentation, aggressive behaviour, lack of national breast screening programmes and lack of reliable data registries as well as socioeconomic factors. These factors make applying the international guidelines for breast cancer management very challenging. The aim of this project is to explore the need for a regional breast cancer guideline as well as to screen the clinical practice of breast cancer management in the MENA region.
Methodology: Three web-based designed surveys were sent to more than 600 oncologists in the MENA region from the period of August 2013 to October 2014. Full descriptive data and information regarding the application of international breast cancer guidelines were collected. The software was using the IP address to prevent duplication of collected data. Descriptive analysis and results were shown as numbers and percentages.
Results: During the period of the survey, 104 oncologists responded, representing around an 11% response rate. The majority of replies came from Egypt (59 responses (59%)), followed by Saudi Arabia (ten responses (9.6%)). Fifty-one per cent of responders had more than ten years of experience, and further 31.7% had 5–10 years of experience. Seventy-four per cent were working in governmental hospitals, which is our target sector. There was a major defect in having a genetic counsel unit (78.8% declared an absence of this service), presence of a national breast screening programme (55.8% declared an absence of this service), performing sentinel lymph node biopsy (43.3% declared
an absence of this service). The need for regional guidelines for the management of breast cancer was agreed upon by 90.6% of responders.
Conclusion: There is a clear need to improve the management of breast cancer in the MENA region. Creating a national breast screening programme and a reliable database is essential. A regional guideline is required to establish the best possible management of breast cancer according to the patients and disease specification as well as the regional socioeconomic factors and facilities available. There is also a need to improve clinical research that meets the region’s needs.