(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The Supreme Council of Health (SCH), alongside other stakeholders in cancer care, prevention, awareness and support groups, organised an event yesterday to mark the annual World Cancer Day, which usually falls on February 4.
Speaking at the event under the theme: "Together it is Possible", Public Health Department director Dr Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani said that the target for the country was to see incidence of cancer cases reduce by 25% by the year 2025 as many people still suffer from the disease, especially breast cancer and prostate cancer, which have the highest incidence rate (50% and 30% respectively) among all cancers.
"This is the first time we will have all partners in cancer care come together to raise awareness about the disease and we hope to work together in ensuring early diagnosis and treatments, its prevention as well as post-care support for those affected.
This is very important because there is a chance to live after having the disease, it is no longer a death sentence," he said.
The official stressed that efforts are being made to step up awareness and understanding of the killer disease in order to make sure it is being viewed as a chronic disease such diabetes.
During a presentation, Dr Mohamed al-Thani mentioned that cancers are major challenge facing public health globally and especially in the GCC region.
He said that according to indicators and the latest statistics released by the Gulf Centre for Cancer Registries, over a period of 10 years, about 95,000 cases of cancers were diagnosed within the six Gulf countries, with cases evenly divided between genders.
"It was also found that the annual rate of cancer injury during the same period amounted to about 79 cases of gender per 100,000 GCC inhabitants," Dr Mohamed al-Thani said.
He added that the statistical reports indicate that about 50% of cases were diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease, and that more cases were diagnosed within the age groups less than age of diagnosis rates in developed countries.
Speaking at the event, Hayat Cancer Support Group founder, Ellie LeBaron, who is the wife of a former American ambassador to Qatar and a cancer survivor herself, noted that the group, which was formed in 2010, provides support for all cancer survivors as well as cancer patients, including families and relatives.
"Our mission is to support cancer patients, raise awareness, remove stigmas, and give hope as well as encourage regular screening tests for early detection and treatment," she noted.
Think Pink Qatar founder Karen al-Kharouf stressed the importance of awareness in combating the disease, maintaining that Qataris need to be more aware and involved in education and raising awareness about the disease, especially breast cancer.
"There are many people out there who are afraid of the cancer and do not want to have anything to do with it ... I'll say, you can't stay away and the earlier you find out about it, the better and you can save your life," she said.
Other speakers at the event included the Hamad Medical Corporation's Tertiary Hospitals Group chief David Astley, representatives from Qatar National Cancer Society and Al Hiba-Qatar.