The Roche Column

Lung cancer developments improving – but awareness is still lacking

Whilst awareness of breast cancer is improving in the country, there is still some negligence on the part of UAE residents around lung cancer, according to an expert speaking at the third annual International Oncology Conference in Abu Dhabi. However, whilst it is still one of the leading causes of death in the UAE, brought on by the prevalence of hookah pipes and cheap tobacco, incidence rates are still lower than in other parts of the world.

“From the limited data we have available, it appears that lung cancer incidence in the UAE is less than it is in the western world. However, we also see higher rates of incidence amongst women, which is why we emphasize that in all cases, regular check-ups are a must, as early detection means a much higher chance of survival,” said Dr Norbert Dreier, Head of Department, Oncology / Hematology at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

There are two major types of lung cancer – small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer – and treatment of both differs greatly. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common, and it is here that the fi eld is seeing some rapid developments.

“Small-cell lung cancer continues to be treated using age-old methods like chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. However, for non-small cell lung cancer, we’re detecting genetic aberrations that will allow us to have more specifi c treatments for this cancer moving forward. There are a lot of companies zoning in on this market – the market leaders are of course Roche Diagnostics – but there are also many others, this all helps us strengthen our diagnostics portfolio and benefi t the patients,” said Dr Dreier.

Whilst those who have never smoked can still develop the disease, the risk of lung cancer amongst smokers is at least 10 times higher than that of non-smokers, the World Health Organization recently reported. In the UAE, much needs to be done to raise awareness, according to Dr Dreier.

“Awareness levels around lung cancer are not where they should be and there is defi nitely some negligence on the part of the patient. Clearly, smoking rates are not declining, so hopefully we can do something more. There is a lung cancer program starting in Abu Dhabi this year, but whilst this is a good start, there is still a long way to go,” he said.

Held under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, the conference attracted more than 35 cancer experts and 900 delegates.

 Date of upload: 16th Nov 2015


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