(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The 2010 statistics of the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveal that leukaemia is one of the ten most common malignancies found in the Arab world and it is the third most common cancer in Oman. The statistics also rank Oman 12th in the world for deaths caused due to cancer.
A recent event at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Sohar discussed chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), a cancer of white blood cells which is more common in men than women.
Speaking at the event, Dr Salam al Kindi, head of haematology department at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital in Muscat, said, ''In CML, affected cells build up in the body over a period of time. In many cases people don't have any symptoms for at least a few years.
''Over a period of time, the cells can affect other parts of the body, including the spleen. In later stages, the disease can change into fast-growing acute leukaemia that invades almost any organ in the body.''
He explained that this form is characterised by the increased and unregulated growth of predominantly myeloid cells in the bone marrow and the accumulation of these cells in the blood.
''In Gulf countries awareness on the symptoms of leukaemia is low. People are often not aware of its different forms and the disease management options available.
''Through events, we are making efforts to educate people about the disease and teach them how they can fight it,'' said Islam Sadek, haematology medical advisor, Novartis Oncology.
CML is often identified by enlargement of the spleen or liver, unexpected bruising, easy bleeding, bone pain, fatigue and weakness. ''It is one of the common forms of adult leukaemia, accounting for 15-20 per cent of cases and early diagnosis can help patients manage the disease by seeking accurate treatment,'' he added.
''The disease is detected by conducting a test on blood cell count. If any abnormality is detected then diagnosis is completed through a bone marrow biopsy,'' said Dr Ali al Madhani, executive director, haematologist, and in-charge of haemoglobinopathy at Sohar hospital.
He said that although there are very few approved treatment options, medication is provided to control abnormal activities of blood cells. ''Chemotherapy is also used to treat the disease. Supportive care is recommended to cope with symptoms of the disease.''
Experts at the event also pointed out that, according to statistics available, leukaemia is one of the ten most common malignancies in Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the UAE. In most of these countries, leukaemia is also a common type of paediatric cancer.
They also said that studies in Arab populations have shown that the high rate of consanguinity does not affect the incidence of leu