Health Authority – Abu Dhabi’s ‘Breathe Life’ Roundtable addresses high lung cancer mortality rate
Wave 2 of ‘Live Healthy &Simply Check’ campaign urges smokers to quit, public to report symptoms earlier
November 13, 2013
Lung cancer has emerged as the most deadly form of cancer for males in Abu Dhabi and second for both sexes. In 2012, the condition claimed the lives of 48 people. Lung cancer is a highly fatal disease, with most cases diagnosed at the very late stages – typically at stage 4. By this time, the condition has already spread to other parts of the body. In 2012, 53 cases of lung cancer were reported, 81 percent of whom were male with 74 per cent being expatriates.
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, responsible for almost 9 out of 10 cases. Even passive smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by between 20 and 30 per cent due to the carcinogenic content of the over 4,000 chemical compounds released with tobacco smoke. Smoking causes 71 per cent of global lung cancer deaths and 22 per cent of global cancer deaths in general.
Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the regulating body of the healthcare sector of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, discussed risk factors, preventive measures, and general information related to lung cancer at its Lung Cancer Awareness Roundtable held today (Wednesday, November 13, 2013) at the Authority’s headquarters. Running under the theme ‘Breathe Life,’ the forum marks the second Wave of HAAD’s six-month ‘Live Healthy and Simply Check’ cancer awareness campaign which aims to increase knowledge and encourage behaviors that reduce the risk of developing cancer and emphasize the importance of regular screenings to decrease the risk of cancer-related deaths. Smokers can reduce their risk of lung cancer by as much as 30 to 50 per cent, 10 years after they quit the habit.
The Authority also discussed other contributing factors such as workplace exposure to cancer-causing substances including asbestos, silica and diesel vapors; air pollution; family and medical histories; and suppressed immunity, among others.
Dr. Jalaa Taher, Manager of HAAD’s Non-Communicable Disease Department, said: “At-risk groups are advised to change their lifestyles and/or improve their environments and immediately consult a physician if they have any predisposing risk factors. They should also immediately seek medical attention for coughing up blood, persistent or intense cough, shortness of breath, a hoarse voice, harsh sounds with each breath, and recurrent lung problems such as bronchitis or pneumonia.”
“It is very unfortunate that many people continue to die of lung cancer on a yearly basis despite the fact that the main cause is known. Our ongoing cancer awareness campaign provides an effective platform for informing the public about the dangers of smoking. This is coupled with the national efforts and laws to control tobacco use in the UAE. Signs and symptoms can take years to develop, and late diagnosis is associated with high mortality. . It is thus critical to take the necessary precautions and measures at the early stages to detect or prevent lung cancer,” added Dr. Omniyat Al Hajeri, Director of Public Health and Research at HAAD.
The Lung Cancer Awareness Roundtable forms part of the latest edition of HAAD’s annual Cancer Wave Health Promotion Program being organized under the theme ‘Live Healthy and Simply Check.’ The six-month program began last October, and will extend through March 2014. It will cover breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer as well, the first of which has already been the focus of a separate roundtable held recently.
The HAAD cancer awareness program will also feature discounted or free cancer screening; the distribution of brochures, booklets, info-graphs and other informative materials; healthcare practitioner and employee seminars and trainings; and special events to be undertaken in coordination with program partners.