Cancer fourth leading cause of death, says only book on big C in Arab world

The disease caused approximately 419,000 deaths in 2018

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By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 26 Mar 2022, 1:48 PM

Last updated: Sat 26 Mar 2022, 4:22 PM

Cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, recently launched book 'Cancer in the Arab World' says.

The disease caused approximately 419,000 deaths in 2018. Lung cancer was the most prevalent, followed by breast, bladder, colorectal and liver cancers.

The book, written by Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, director of oncology at Burjeel Medical City and president of the Emirates Oncology Society, also reveals gender-wise cancer statistics.

In men, the most prevalent types of cancer are lung cancer, liver cancer, and prostate cancer making up 10.4 per cent, 8.4 per cent, and 8 per cent of all cases, respectively.

Whereas, in women, the most prevalent ones include breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer making up 34.7 per cent, 5.7 per cent, and 4.6 per cent of the total cases, respectively.

Dr Al Shamsi said that the book will help students and researchers study the Arab world, and that the book was launched when he realised that there was no other such title.

There is a centre in USA called 'Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan for personalised Cancer care' in Houston, which contributes to cancer awareness and research in every possible manner,” he said while speaking about his practise in the US.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan for personalised Cancer care in Houston
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan for personalised Cancer care in Houston

Pioneer in the field

On his return to the UAE, Dr Al Shamsi realised that there was no data on cancer in the Arab world.

“I found it really difficult to understand disease in the UAE and Arab world as the data was quite minimal and there was no comprehensive research on Oncology. This made me feel that other people should not have the same experience. So, I started working on the book,” he said.

The initial plan was to publish a research paper, but the project grew bigger as members of his team showed enthusiasm.

The team comprised Faryal Iqbal, Dr Ibrahim Abu Gheida and Dr Deborah Mukherjee, from Burjeel Hospital.

A challenging journey

The book took over 5 years to launch. It was a challenging journey for Dr Al Shamsi to understand the demographics and culture of the Arab World after his fellowship in the US.

The challenge began when Dr Al Shamsi and his team realised that tno data was readily available. “With no data available, we had to collaborate with many oncologists and doctors from the Arab World to obtain information,” said Dr Al Shamsi.

The book includes data from nearly every country across the globe. “I couldn't find the right oncologist and doctors from Djibouti and Comoros. The data of every other country is concrete in the book,” he said.

Dr Humaid Al Shamsi
Dr Humaid Al Shamsi

He also added: "No publisher was interested to launch the book. But finally, Springer loved our idea and effort we have put to bring out the book."

To fund the project Dr Al Shamsi's team got in touch with Merck and Burjeel Hospital, who obliged to the same.

Free to access

“This book is completely free for anyone who would like to understand and read on cancer in the Arab world,” said Dr Al Shamsi.

Adding that this book will be an important cornerstone, Dr Shamsi said: “Anyone who will read this book will enrich themselves. This book will remain forever and will give me and my team a feeling that we have worked for a noble cause. Sharing knowledge is ‘Sadaqah’, and will flow even after our death.”

Dr Al Shamsi is very delighted with the response received from local and overseas audiences. “We have recorded over 70,000 downloads online in just 10 days,” he said.

A guide for students

Elaborating on how this book would benefit students, he said: "Pupils who are studying Oncology read books developed and researched in the west and have all the knowledge on western oncology pattern. But from now on, local students will be able to read and understand more on cancer in the Arab World."

Commending the UAE authority's efforts in fighting cancer in the country, he said that the government is trying very hard to bring in new medicines and technology, develop new medicine and bring in the best in the field to develop and conduct research on cures.


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