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Cancer Geneticist, Dr. Malak Abed

2As an ambassador of 10KSA, I wrote last month about cancer. Contrary to common belief, cancer is no longer a death sentence. In many cases it is, but progress in the field has been immense and is often lost between professional publishing, popular science and mainstream interpretation.

This week, I managed to steal a few minutes from a cancer geneticist with remarkable contributions in her field. Her name is Dr. Malak Abed, a young Saudi doctor who specializes in molecular genetics pathology. She studied and worked in the U.S. since 2005 and her journey was full of sweat and motivation.

Starting with education, Dr. Abed earned an M.D. from King Abdulaziz University. She became a resident in pathology at Georgetown University Hospital, then went on as a fellow at UCSF and Harvard Medical School. Presently, she is a researcher and instructor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

What is “cancer genetics”?

Cancer genetics is a study of the changes in genes that cause cancer.

Is cancer really hereditary or lifestyle induced?

Cancer is a genetic disease (difference between genetic and hereditary). Practically, it is a mix of both, i.e. it can be inherited (rare) or caused by a gene mutation that occurs during life.

Why is cancer treatment so expensive?

The diagnosis and treatment process is costly. It involves hospital visits, tests, surgery, hospitalization, radiation and chemotherapy. Also, the high cost of medication is due to the R&D involved in developing the drugs. Luckily, cancer treatment in KSA is generally covered by insurance providers and may be offered for free in public hospitals.

What types of cancer should women in KSA be wary of?

Breast, thyroid, lung and cervical cancers. Screening is available for breast and cervical cancers.

Your key words of advice?

Do your screening regularly. Do not discontinue. Also, exercise and proper diet contribute to preventing the development and progression of cancer in our bodies.


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