Cancer still a formidable challenge: Minister - GulfToday

Cancer still a formidable challenge: Minister


Sheikh Nahyan addresses participants of the event in Abu Dhabi.

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

The complexity of cancer care requires healthcare professionals, experts and researchers across the world to come and work together in developing an effective solution in the fight against cancer, said Minister for Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al Nahyan after inaugurating the 7th International Oncology Conference in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Hosted by MENA Conference with the support of VPS Healthcare and Burjeel Medical City, the Conference was attended by renowned personalities including Nobel Laureate in medicine Dr Ferid Murad.  The minister opined that cancer is still a formidable challenge despite the rapid and extraordinary progress made in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

He urged researchers and experts to work together for the shared goal of developing an effective solution to the multi-faceted demands of cancer care.   

Sheikh Nahyan praised VPS Healthcare for its continuous contributions across the healthcare sector of UAE and said the services of the organisation in developing quality healthcare and medical education in the nation have been immense and indispensable.

He expressed hope that Burjeel Medical City, the upcoming state-of-the-art facility of VPS Healthcare in Abu Dhabi, will evolve as a world leader in cancer genomic research and centre of excellence in cancer treatment.

VPS Healthcare Chairman & Managing Director Dr Shamsheer Vayalil said, “The Burjeel Medical City, the multispeciality hospital coming up in Mohammed Bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi, will devote significant resources towards developing clinical research programmes and trials to develop customised approaches for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and drug development for immunotherapy and molecularly targeted therapies.”

Dr Charles F Stanford, Conference Chair and Chairman of the organising committee, said that the two-day conference focuses on new research and technologies with the promise of improving the outcome of cancer currently and in the near future. It has showcased some of the world’s leading clinicians, scientists and surgeons, who will share and discuss groundbreaking management of patients in this, one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.

He said, “As we work together to map out our future plans, I am sure that the recommendations made by the experts during this conference will make a true difference.”

Talking to the media on the sideline of the conference, Dr Shahrukh Hashmi, Director of Clinical trials Unit at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, warned that immediate change in lifestyle is must to control cancer epidemic in the region, as majority of the residents follow a lifestyle that is directly connected with various types of cancer. Hashmi, who is also Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, USA, said that there is no organised data in the region to reflect exact scenario of cancer cases, but all the hospitals are overwhelmed by the number of cancer patients.

He said that approximately about 10 per cent of the middle-aged and elderly people in the region are affected by malignancy. If immediate care is not taken to control the disease, every family might get affected.

“Consumption of processed meat, smoking cigarettes and shisha, as well as obesity are connected directly to one or the other type of cancer. People must change their habits and stay away from fast food offering processed meat and smoking.

“They should also leave the sedentary lifestyle and go to gym more often to control obesity, which does not only cause diabetes, but most of the cancers too,” he said. He pointed out that a lot of money has been spent on treatment instead of prevention of the disease.

“Governments must focus on prevention and raising awareness, otherwise every single family will have at least one member affected by the disease,” he warned.

Other speakers also highlighted the importance of the multidisciplinary approaches that have resulted in significant improvement and is required to provide patients with using these leading-edge cancer therapies.

They also highlighted issues and challenges in clinical trials and research studies that provide critical information for physicians when deciding the best treatment strategies for cancer patients

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