DOHA: Qatar marked the World Cancer Day yesterday with a pledge to prevent and reduce the incidence of the killer disease in the country through collective efforts, involving health authorities, health care providers and non-governmental organisations.
The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) yesterday unveiled a series of initiatives to fight the disease, including a plan to provide basic tips on cancer through the school curricula and more awareness programmes targeting the younger generation as well as adults.
Cancer is considered to be the third major cause of death in Qatar, after road accidents and heart diseases. Cancer accounts for about 12 percent of the total deaths in Qatar.
“Our target is to reduce the number of deaths caused by cancer to 7.5 percent by 2025,” Dr Mohammed Al Thani, Director of the Public Health Department at SCH said yesterday.
He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a seminar to mark the World Cancer Day at SCH premises yesterday. The event was attended by officials and experts from the SCH, Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar National Cancer Society and three cancer support groups based in Qatar — Think Pink, Hayat and Al Hiba.
Addressing the seminar, Mohammed Al Thani said the incidence of cancer is on the rise in Qatar and other GCC countries. Over the past 10 years a total of 95,000 people were diagnosed with the disease in the six GCC countries and about 50 percent of them were women.
Early detection remains a major challenge in the region, with 50 percent of the detected cases presented when their illness was at an advanced stage.
Citing 2010 statistics, he said 815 cancer cases were detected in the country during the year. Breast cancer was the most prevalent — 15.6 percent of the total cases — followed by prostate cancer among men which accounted for 6.6 percent the total cases.
Dr Al Anoud bint Mohamed Al Thani, manager of Health Promotion and Non-communicable Diseases at SCH said her department was working on a project to promote cancer awareness among the younger generation through the school curriculum.
“The idea is to provide basic information about cancer, the risk factors and preventive measures to schoolchildren from the kindergarten to the secondary levels. We are reviewing the curricula of all the Independent and private schools to see how this can be done. Some schools may already have such topics in their curricula,” said Al Anoud Al Thani.
SCH is also planning to conduct more cancer awareness programmes in the Qatar University and the Education City, she added. Giving a presentation at the seminar earlier, the official said deaths caused by cancers in Qatar were estimated to be 12.1 percent of the total deaths.
Among women it accounts for 23.8 percent, due to the high incidence of breast cancer, while among men 8.7 percent of the deaths were caused by cancer.
In 2009, 47.5 new cases (per 100,000 population) were detected in the country.
The number of cases is increasing because there are increasing new cases on top of the already diagnosed old cases. The graph is going up especially in the case of breast and colorectal cancers among women and bladder and lung cancer among males.
The most common among Qatari males are prostate, bone marrow, lung, colon and liver cancers. The most common among Qatari females are breast, uterus, colon, liver and thyroid gland cancers. The most common regardless the sex, are breast, bone marrow, prostate, lung, thyroid, lymph node, kidney and then urinary bladder cancers.
More than one third of Qatari cancer patients were detected with an advanced stage of the disease. As part of the National Cancer Strategy launched last year, a national awareness campaign is being developed for refuting myths about cancer and raise public awareness.
In his presentation, David Astley, chief of tertiary care at HMC said the incidence of cancer in Qatar is set to double by 2030 as the population expands and ages.
In line with the National Cancer Strategy, HMC is focusing on early detection, rapid and definitive diagnosis, comprehensive treatment and ongoing care (including secondary prevention).
“The National Cancer Strategy is a comprehensive plan to address cancer right across the health and education sectors and through the full continuum of services from awareness through to prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and care,” said Astley. With this objective, HMC has established sub-specialty clinics to improve access and concentrate appropriate expertise in tackling specific forms of cancer. It has also set up multi-disciplinary teams and recently introduced Patient Pathway Coordinators.
Dr Fareeja Hussain of Qatar National Cancer Society, Sheikha Leena bint Nasser bin Khalid Al Thani, director of Al Hiba Group, Karen Al Kharouf, of Think Pink Qatar and Elinor LeBaron of Hayat Cancer Support Group also gave presentations focusing on their respective organisations.
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