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10th UAE Cancer Congress: New therapies to change face of cancer treatment

Dubai: Targeted chemotherapy to treat malignant tumour mutations and anti HER 2 medication for treating some forms of aggressive breast cancers are a couple of break through therapies of 2018 that are now available in the UAE and are likely to redefine treatment of cancer in the future said top oncologists at the 10th edition of the UAE Cancer Congress in Dubai on Thursday.

Speaking to Gulf News Dr Shaheenah Dawood, president of the Congress, and Dr Mouza Mohammad Al Ameri, oncologist surgeon and head of the Al Tawam Breast Cancer Centre, said the UAE was at the forefront of cutting edge oncology treatment.

“Apart from immunotherapy that has shown very promising results, certain other cancer trials have shown that targeted chemotherapy especially in case of multiple mutations’ tumour has shown great success and this will change the face of cancer treatment in the near future,” said Dr Dawood.

In her keynote address at the Congress Dr Dawood highlighted the alarming statistics on the prevalence of cancer. She said: “According to GLOBOCAN 2018 estimates, cancer incidence and mortality are rapidly growing worldwide and this year, 18.1 million new cancer cases are expected and more alarmingly 9.6 million cancer deaths are predicted across the globe. Moreover, the World Health Organisation in 2015 estimated that cancer will be the 3rd leading cause of death before age 70 years in the UAE.”

She also pointed out that while publishing their 12-year cancer incidence report, the Gulf centre for cancer control noted that between 1998 and 2009 there was an approximate 1.47 fold increase in the incidence of cancer among Gulf nationals with long term projections indicating a further 1.8 fold increase by 2030.

The United Nations estimates that the world is home to 7.6 billion people and none of them regardless of ethnicity, race or gender are immune to cancer. While various factors such as the advancements in treatment protocols and multiple educational programmes are emphasising the importance of cancer screenings, doctors suggest that avoiding unhealthy lifestyle choices can naturally reverse cancer death rates more efficiently.

Dr Al Ameri who conducts several mastectomies and breast reconstruction surgeries at Al Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, said: “The new breakthrough therapies for breast cancer means there was great hope for women. “Breast cancer has a better prognosis than diabetes treatment in some cases where women can expect to go into remission and be cancer free in a few years. I don’t think many women know that breast cancer in the early stages does not even require chemotherapy, just a lumpectomy and radiation resolves the issue. Besides that the new targeted therapies indicates that women need not fear breast cancer. The healing process is not so long and a woman can hope to go into remission and return to normal life.”

The three-day conference (October 11-13) was inaugurated by the Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and President of the UAE Genetics Association. He was accompanied by Humaid Al Qatami, chairman of the Board and director general of Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Dr Mariam Matar, founder and chairperson of the UAE Genetic Disease Association.

During his keynote address, Shaikh Al Nahyan congratulated the international medical fraternity of oncologists for their pioneering work and humanitarian vision. He said: “Today medical science is able to offer multiple options of cancer treatment and able to highlight the importance of prevention which brings hope to the patient community.”

He added: “UAE health care vision highlights the importance of information and appropriate initiatives to educate the public on prevention and lifestyle medicines. This congress is an important initiative to highlight the latest in cancer awareness, treatment, research and facilities available in our region.”

This year, the UAE Cancer Congress is featuring the launch of the first Asia Pacific Middle East Biosimilar Summit, which is a dedicated gathering, focusing on the practical strategies and opportunities for biosimilar drugs, while also aims to support the local and international Pharma and Biopharma companies who are seeking to lay out a viable roadmap in this highly competitive global biosimilar market.

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