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Cancer awareness and prevention can save lives and soften its impact

Cancer awareness and prevention can save lives and soften its impact

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Cancer awareness and prevention can save lives and soften its impact

By: Dr Lori Stetz, Chief Medical Officer - Americas, International Health, Cigna Healthcare and a member of the scientific advisory board for TargetCancer Foundation.
Cancer's devastating impact is hard to ignore. It has been estimated that one in six deaths globally is now attributable to cancer, making it likely than you or someone close to you will be directly affected at some point in your life.

In the World Health Organization's Eastern Mediterranean Region which includes the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, cancer diagnoses are projected to increase from 788,000 in 2022 to 1.57 million by 2045. The WHO notes the increase will be driven by population growth and the high prevalence of risk factors in the region such as tobacco use, obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet and air pollution.
For much of history, cancer was considered an ageing-related illness. Nearly 60% of new cancers are diagnosed in individuals aged 65 or above globally , and now that we are living longer, cancer has become more prevalent.
But more young people are also getting cancer and cancers that impact the younger, working-age population are often more aggressive, with higher mortality rates. Early prevention and treatment are therefore key. Luckily, we now have tools, treatments, and therapeutics to prevent, detect, and treat cancer.
These have contributed to the positive news is that over 40% of cancers are now preventable just by living a healthy lifestyle; – maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and limiting or abstaining from alcohol or smoking.

There is evidence that the message is getting through to the GCC countries.  Cigna Healthcare's 'The Vitality Study' which measures eight indicators such as physical, social and financial found that respondents in Saudi Arabia and the UAE had high vitality levels of 38% and 32% compared to a global average of 17%.
Following cancer screening guidelines is also important, as that can help prevent late-stage diagnosis. Indeed, some routine tests, such as colonoscopies and various gynecological exams, including the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test, papanicolaou (pap) test, and visual inspection with acetic acid, can help prevent cancer by identifying precancerous cells at an early stage so that they can be removed.
But it is not always that straightforward. Breast cancer, for example, is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths, and mammography screening is the only test shown to reduce breast cancer deaths. Yet, apprehension has been widely acknowledged as a reason why many women avoid this potentially life-saving medical procedure.

Breast cancer incidence has increased over time among women in most GCC countries, likely reflecting the improvements in healthcare access and screening programs. Researchers also found that nationals and non-nationals developed breast cancer at a younger age than women in other high-income countries.  
Similarly, people frequently avoid screening for colorectal cancer screening (the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths) possibly due to fear or embarrassment.
Our perception of cancer needs to keep pace with the leaps and bounds being made in cancer therapies and innovations. The key to cancer prevention and long-term survival is early detection and treatment. This can help patients to live with cancer and manage it like any other chronic disease (such as diabetes). 
Countries in the GCC have placed cancer detection and care at the heart of their health, development and sustainability programs, realizing the potential to improve outcomes for patients and societies as a whole.

Jérôme Droesch, CEO of Domestic Health and Health Services, International Health, Cigna Healthcare said that companies are investing more in in employee health and well-being either through insurance coverage, disease awareness events, or on-site health screening services which can help alleviate the high cost of cancer treatment and other health services.
'It is critically important for employers to understand their duty of care. Today, many people continue to work even after being diagnosed with cancer, and in many countries and jurisdictions employers are legally obliged to make reasonable accommodation for workers who need cancer care.
'Successfully fulfilling our duty of care also comes with significant rewards, such as a positive corporate culture, increased engagement and productivity, talent retention and acquisition, and enhanced health and safety. Conversely, failing to do so brings significant legal and reputational risks,' he said.

Cancer is expected to cost the world over 90 trillion AED between 2020 and 2050, accounting for healthcare costs, lost labor, and spent savings. As Simiao Chen, the lead author of this study, explains, 'Addressing cancer is expensive. But the cost of not addressing cancer is even higher.'
We urgently need to examine our understanding of cancer and how we talk about it. We must recognize that cancer is treatable –in some cases preventable – and we all have a role to play to use the tools we have and to keep advancing.
Despite the impact and challenges, both physical and psychological – with the right treatment we can often live a fulfilling life with cancer.


Posted by : Editorial Team
Viewed 12353 times
PR Category : Healthcare & Medicine
Posted on : Friday, March 8, 2024  10:22:00 AM UAE local time (GMT+4)
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