Qatar’s cancer services are on par with the best international practices and are recognised by international research study groups, a senior official has said.
“The transformation of cancer services in recent years has resulted in the development of a comprehensive, high-quality service, among the very best in the world,” said Dr al-Hareth al-Khater, deputy medical director, National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR), Hamd Medical Corporation.
“Today, HMC’s cancer services are benchmarked against best international practices and are recognised by international research study groups. Therefore, Qataris do not need to seek treatment abroad anymore,” he said while speaking at a press conference by the Ministry of Health (MoPH) to mark World Cancer Day. World Cancer Day is observed on February 4 annually.
Sheikh Dr Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani, director, Public Health Department, MoPH; Dr Shaikha Abu Shaikha, director, Cancer Screening Programme at Primary health Care Corporation (PHCC); and Dr Hadi Mohamed Abu Rasheed, head, Professional Development at Qatar Cancer Society also attended the conference.
Sheikh Mohamed said, “The National Cancer Registry shows 1,566 new cancer cases were diagnosed during 2016, of which 21% were Qataris; 42% female and 58% male. Breast cancer is the most common one with an average of 17%, followed by colorectal cancer approximately 10%.”
The official noted that the survival rates of Qatari patients, reached 89% for breast cancer, 69% for colorectal cancer, 67% for leukemia, and 90% for thyroid cancer.
“In 2016, there were 165 cancer deaths among Qataris and lung cancer was the primary cause at 14% followed by liver cancer by 11%, and colorectal cancer, by 8.5%,” he pointed out.
"MoPH in co-operation with its partners has established an annual calendar to raise awareness about different types of cancers, and has implemented monthly awareness programmes targeting one type of cancer. Co-ordination is made between all partners to unify the activities implemented at the national level. This calendar is updated annually according to statistical information on the disease situation,” he said.
According to Dr al-Khater, NCCCR offers cancer care with the latest technology in the field of minimally invasive procedures, investigation and diagnostic tests as well as stem cell and bone marrow transplant.
“The number of patients treated at NCCCR has increased throughout the past few years at an average of 13% per year. The number of day case visits has increased by over 65% since 2013. We have successfully performed 53 autologous stem cell transplants since 2015 and 12 allogeneic blood stem cell transplants since 2017,” the official added.
Dr al-Khater said that over 100 patients have benefited from the cutting-edge M6 CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery system. “Moreover, NCCCR hosts psychological and palliative care services for support of patients and their families while cancer drug therapy and radiotherapy treatments are currently free to residents of Qatar with a valid health card.”
Dr Shaikha noted that over 25,000 people underwent breast or bowel cancer screening in 2019 through the Breast and Bowel Cancer Screening programme operated by PHCC.
“Our detection rate has reached 7.48% of those screened, a few points short of the international leader, Australia with 11% detection rate. From this year, new bowel cancer screening guideline will be adopted as bowel cancer screening will now be every two years instead of one year,” she described.
According to the official, so far, 14,293 people underwent screening for bowel cancer with 10,983 taking up the opportunity of free mammograms for breast cancer.
“More lectures than ever were held – 31 in total, which attracted a combined audience of almost 938 people. Some 455 physicians trained in the importance of screening and early detection via 45 training sessions resulting in over 5,901 people being referred for screening,” she added.
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