Study reveals rise in cancer cases

DUBAI — An extraordinary increase has been recorded in the number of cancer cases in the UAE over the past 30 years, according to the first locally compiled study on the disease.


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Tue 21 Sep 2010, 11:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:43 PM

The compilation also indicates that cancer is the third leading cause of death in the UAE following heart disease and accidents. Lung and stomach cancers were found to be the most common cancers in men while breast and thyroid cancers were high in women. Leukemia was the most common cancer amomg children.

The study compiled by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences’ Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS), based on independent reports and statistics on cancer published since 1981, however, points to the lack of national cancer survey programmes.

“We have come to the conclusion that despite the fact that surveys are an important component of the UAE’s strategy to fight cancers, no such programmes have been implemented at the national level,” said Dr Ghazi Omar Tadmouri, Assistant Director of the centre.

The study was published in the official annual report of the Asian Pacific Organisation for Cancer Prevention (APOCP) in Turkey.

“We received the request from APOCP late last year and the study was accepted recently,” said Dr Tadmouri who was also part of the four-member team that compiled the study.

As per the study, a huge number of women suffered from various types of cancers with the highest being breast cancer at 9.7 per cent. Similarly, an appreciable number of men suffered from some form of cancer with lung cancer being the highest at 3.4 per cent, followed by stomach cancer.

The first figure about cancers in the UAE appeared in 1981 with reference to five cases among 209 patients with liver diseases at Al-Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah. Twenty years later, a report issued by the Dubai Health Authority indicated 1,379 cancer cases between 2004 and 2007.

The study points to breast cancer as the most common malignancy among women in the UAE with a tendency to develop the disease at least a decade earlier than their counterparts in western countries.

It 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 as far as breast cancer in concerned, by establishing the Higher National Committee for Breast Cancer Control in 2006.

The study also reviewed the status of pediatric cancers that represent about 9.5 per cent of all cancer cases in the UAE with an average of 9.2 cases out of every 100,000 Emirati children.

Lymphoma accounts for nearly two-thirds of all childhood malignancies and occurs more among those born in consanguineous families.

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 prostate cancer cases were discovered from among 216 cancer cases between 2004 and 2007.

Professor Najib Al-Khaja Secretary General of the award said that the centre’s role in studying the UAE health situation would help develop strategic plans to reduce the spread of serious and chronic diseases in the UAE.

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