Abu Dhabi, UAE: Although the prevalence of cancer in the UAE still trails developed Western nations, the large proportion of patients suffering from diabetes and obesity could narrow this gap within just the next decade if appropriate action is not taken.
Although preventative measures may not seem to yield results immediately, they need to be implemented across the nation if mortality from cancer is to be kept under control, senior health physicians warned in the capital on Thursday.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has projected that the number of people across the world suffering from cancer is set to double by 2030, especially if action is not taken to stem the number of new cases. And this is especially scary because cancer is not only the second leading cause of death globally after cardiovascular disease, but also the costliest disease to treat and manage,” said Dr Mohammad Alam, director of public health and safety at the Dubai Health Authority.
Dr Alam was speaking at the second International Oncology Conference, which saw 600 medical professionals discuss the latest innovations and challenges in diagnosing, treating and managing cancer. The conference was organised by medical service provider VPS Healthcare, and was held under the patronage of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development.
According to the UAE Ministry of Health, cancer is the third leading cause of death in the country after cardiovascular diseases and accidents, and it accounts for nearly 500 deaths annually. The top four cancers in terms of the number of cases are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, leukaemia and lung cancer.
“There is now quite a bit of awareness now about breast cancer. But there is still a gap between the rate at which cancer prevalence is rising and the rate at which we are creating awareness. After all, although the number of colorectal cancer cases is increasing significantly, older people who are at risk of the disease are still not being screened,” Dr Alam said.
The official advocated more awareness campaigns that encourage people to eat healthy, undertake regular physical activity and give up harmful habits like smoking and drinking.
“Interventions that induce people to control their spending, especially on energy-dense foods, could be especially important in reducing cancer prevalence,” Dr Alam said.
Similarly, initiatives that encourage schoolchildren to adopt healthier habits from a young age could also be key, he added.
© Gulf NewsSep 2014