More than 20 years ago, Baheya Wahbi – a member of a prominent Egyptian family – was diagnosed with breast cancer. She found that she couldn’t get the care she needed in Egypt, necessitating travel to the United States and Europe for treatment. While abroad, she worried about the many other Egyptian women suffering from breast cancer but without the resources to enable them to travel.
This concern stayed with her and so, before her death, she asked her sons & daughters to buy and bring to Egypt the state-of-the-art radiation therapy machine that she was able to access when abroad. They agreed but did even more. Instead of bringing just that one machine, they decided to honour their mother and her vision to help other women in Egypt by establishing an entire hospital in her name.
Located at the site of her house, the Baheya Foundation Hospital today is dedicated to the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of women with breast cancer. To ensure all women in Egypt have access to world-class care, the hospital provides its service for free.
The foundation and hospital were established in 2015 and currently provide more than 7,000 early detections of breast cancer and 1500 chemotherapy sessions per month, and 3,000 radiation therapy session treatments a month in addition to 350 surgeries per month. These numbers will grow significantly when a new branch of the hospital opens in 2023 in the Sheikh Zayed west of Cairo.
“In addition to providing direct care to women, Baheya also conducts research to continually enhance the services it offers,” said Dr. Mohamed Emara, CEO Baheya Hospital. As Baheya is the centre of excellence providing the most advanced technology with high reputation companies to keep pace with global development as a unique hospital in Egypt & MENA region.
Most recently, this includes a collaborative program with GE Healthcare that builds on GE Healthcare’s experience in women’s health, artificial intelligence (AI) and contrast-enhanced spectral mammography (CESM), and Baheya’s clinical expertise in breast imaging.
As part of a newly announced agreement, the two partners will work to develop and validate the use of AI to assess and predict the response of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in locally advanced breast cancer.
“We are enthusiastic about how this research collaboration has the potential to transform future outcomes for breast cancer patients,” said Agnes Berzsenyi, President & CEO of Women’s Health at GE Healthcare. By combining our expertise with that of the Baheya Foundation and layering it with AI, we are one step closer to delivering on our mission of increasing early detection and helping to save more lives.”
Prof. Dr. Mohamed Gomaa, radio-diagnosis consultant & head of radiology department in Baheya centre for early detection and treatment of breast cancer added: “As part of our commitment to ongoing research in this field, our collaboration with GE Healthcare seeks to deploy the power of AI combined with clinical experience to expand our knowledge of the treatment pathways for neoadjuvant therapy to improve outcomes for patients at Baheya and beyond.”
Various diagnostic imaging technologies are currently used to predict and assess a patient’s response to neoadjuvant therapy, and AI has the potential to give clinicians an earlier indication that a patient is not responding to a given treatment regimen, thereby allowing a timely change of treatment. The result would be a reduction in unnecessary toxicity to the patient and a lower treatment cost for the hospital.
The project will explore the use of AI in CESM to assess response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in advanced breast cancer as an accurate indicator and predictor of response that mimics postoperative pathological results and can precisely predict residual tumours percentage.
In patients with locally advanced breast cancer, neoadjuvant therapy is used before surgery to help reduce the size of a cancerous tumour. Initially targeted to patients whose cancer are not eligible for surgery, the uses of neoadjuvant therapy have extended to include patients whose cancers are operable but would be more feasible to surgery after this therapy.
As Baheya Foundation grows its operations and expands the number of patients it serves, this collaboration with GE Healthcare likewise seeks to expand clinical treatment options and further improve patient outcomes and experiences.