Laura Bush With Saudi Women Promoting Breast Cancer Awareness

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Breast Cancer in Saudi Arabia

When gynecologist Samia al-Amoudi was diagnosed last year with breast cancer, a disease that still carries an intense stigma in this conservative country where women are forced to cover in public, she decided to share the details in her newspaper column, shocking many Saudis.

This week's visit to Saudi Arabia by first lady Laura Bush, who is on a regional tour to raise awareness about breast cancer, is a windfall to Amoudi's battle to bring the issue to the public, she said.

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Bush is visiting the Persian Gulf region as part of the US-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research, launched in 2006 with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, and this week in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi women die of breast cancer because they seek treatment too late, said radiologist Asma al-Dabbagh, one of the first women to conduct mammograms in the country.

Seventy percent of breast cancer cases in Saudi Arabia are not reported until the late stages, compared with 30 percent or fewer in the United States.

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