ancer is the 3rd leading cause of death in the UAE; Cancer prevention is better than cure
A study by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences’ Centre for Arab Genomic Studies indicates that cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death in United Arab Emirates following heart disease and accidents.
The study was published in the official annual report of the Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention (APOCP) in Turkey as a part of many published studies including 42 Asian and Pacific countries.
Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention (APOCP)
Prof. Najib Al-Khaja Secretary General of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences said that the study comes within the framework of implementing the directions of the Patron of the Award H.H Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the UAE Minister of Finance concerning the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies’ vital role in studying the UAE health situation so as to contribute effectively in developing strategic plans to reduce the spread of serious and chronic diseases in the UAE.
The team that conducted the study included Dr. Mahmoud Taleb Al Ali, Director of the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies, Dr. Moza Al-Sharhan, Member of the Executive Board, Dr. Ghazi Tadmouri, Assistant Director of the Centre, and Tasneem Obaid, Assistant Researcher in the Centre.
The study is based on UAE reports and statistics on cancers which has been issued since 1981 until present time.
The study points out to the lack of national cancer survey programs in the United Arab Emirates in spite of the fact that such surveys are important component of the UAE’s strategy to fight cancers.
The study also records a remarkable increase in the number of cancer cases in the UAE over the last 30 years.
The first figure about cancers in the UAE appeared in 1981 with reference to five cases of cancers among 209 patients with liver diseases at Al-Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah. Twenty years later, a report issued by the Dubai Health Authority indicated the discovery of 1379 cases with cancers between 2004 and 2007.
The study also points to breast cancer as the most common malignancy in females in the UAE with a tendency to develop the disease at least a decade earlier than their counterparts in western countries.
The study also indicates that due to social customs, many UAE women do not present themselves for regular medical examination until the case becomes associated with remarkable pain in advanced stages of the disease.
The study points out that the UAE Ministry of Health has shown great concern in breast cancer by establishing the Higher National Committee for Breast Cancer Control in 2006.
The committee succeeded in organizing educational workshops, launching a national awareness campaign and providing mobile services and facilities to raise awareness in remote areas.
The study also reviewed the status of pediatric cancers that represent about 9.5% of all cancer cases in the UAE with an average of 9.2 cases out of every 100.000 Emirati children; mostly followed in special units in Tawam and Dubai Hospitals.
The study notes that lymphoma is the most frequent childhood malignancy in the UAE. It accounts for nearly two-thirds of all childhood malignancies and occurs more for those who were born in consanguineous families.
The study of the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies warns of the negative psychological effects suffered by children with cancer which may be reflected negatively on their behavior and community acceptance.
On the other hand, the study indicated that prostate cancer is the second common cancer among UAE national males. According to statistics from the Dubai Health Authority, 28 cases were discovered with prostate cancer among 216 cancer cases described in years 2004-2007.
Cancer becomes no longer a hopeless disease. A cornerstone in the treatment of many cancers starts with the cooperation between the members of the family with the patient.
It is noteworthy that the strategy of the Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention depends on the idea that “cancer can be controlled and any major reductions in cancer mortality rates will come not from cures but from prevention”.
Beside the enormous efforts made by governments to deal with cancers, greater efforts should be exerted to prevent their spreading through educational campaigns and early detection programs.