GCC cancer time bomb is ticking
An alarming 150 to 200 percent increase in cancer rates is expected by 2030 within the GCC states. This is the highest expected increase in the world, according to medical expert, Dr. Ibtihal Fadil.
Dr. Fadil, a consultant for the chronic diseases department at the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Countries Bureau in Cairo, made this prediction at the International Medical Conference on the Burden of Cancer in the Gulf Region organized by the GCC ministers for health, and in collaboration with the Gulf Center for Cancer at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh. The conference was opened on Tuesday by Deputy Health Minister Dr. Mansoor Al-Hawasi. The event drew a large attendance of experts and senior health care officials from the Kingdom and abroad.
Dr. Fadil said this dramatic expected rise in cancer rates can be attributed to the change of lifestyle in the region and the reality of higher life expectancies for its citizens, adding that WHO considers cancer to be one of the four most chronic diseases that cause the highest death rate. This increase is attributed to the proliferation of four common factors associated with cancer development: Smoking, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, and obesity.
Dr. Fadil also pointed out that 75 percent of cancer cases are discovered during their late stages, which dramatically diminishes the potential success of treatment and results in the death of around 50 percent of cancer patients within five years of the late diagnosis.
She called for the intensification of efforts toward diagnosing cancer earlier, in order to increase the chances of successful treatment for cancers as a whole, especially in consideration of the fact that younger patients who have breast or prostate cancer are often successfully treated, and frequently live for more than 30 years after their treatment. She urged GCC countries to follow the WHO approach in dealing with cancer cases, stressing that no country can alone afford the cost of treating all of its own cases.
“This new prediction has led the WHO to develop multiple policies, strategies, guidelines and methodologies to enable countries to monitor their national indicators, and to achieve the goals of the UN political proclamation of 2011 on fighting chronic diseases, including cancer. Adopting these strategies could result in the reduction of cancer causalities in most countries by as much as 25 percent by 2025,” she said.