Every sixth death worldwide is attributable to cancer, making it the globe's second biggest killer, behind heart disease. The number of patients in the GCC has risen in recent years, largely as a result of improved diagnostic methods. The UAE has made reducing cancer deaths a priority – aiming for an 18 per cent drop by 2021. And with the construction of a new seven-storey cancer treatment centre at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the nation has taken a major step towards achieving its aims. With its radiotherapy and chemotherapy facilities, and additional support for patients, the new Abu Dhabi centre will enable medical professionals to tackle the disease on home ground.
Owing to advances in modern medicine, those in whom cancer is detected early stand an excellent chance of survival. But lengthy treatment can take a serious emotional and physical toll. In such challenging moments, people depend on the support and care of their loved ones, but many patients in the UAE still look abroad for treatment, exacerbating the stresses and strains presented by this most pernicious of diseases. That could be about to change. The facility will bring cutting-edge care to the UAE, making it easier and more comfortable for patients to access treatment. More than that, the centre will cover the costs of treatment for both Emiratis and residents who cannot afford it, as hospital officials said on Monday.
Nevertheless, reducing cancer rates requires a holistic approach. While genetic predisposition and environmental factors are significant, there is no better method of prevention than living a healthy life. Today, lifestyle choices including poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise contribute to a third of all cancer deaths globally. Therefore, highly visible educational public health initiatives remain vital. Similarly, routine check-ups provide a means to detect and treat the disease early. However, most global cancer research is based on Caucasian men and women, and more detailed study of its incidence and treatment is required on other ethnic groups. With its many educational institutions and diverse population, the UAE could play a pivotal role in this field.
Cancer accounts for 16 per cent of all deaths in the UAE, and most of us will know someone who has been affected by it. A combination of early detection and quick, effective treatment gives patients the best hope of beating the disease. The opening of the Cleveland Clinic’s new centre, scheduled for 2021, will add to the growing world-class cancer care ecosystem available to those who live in the UAE, the wider region and beyond.