Dubai: The UAE could soon begin lung cancer treatment using an oral drug, which is an effective option to chemotherapy and offers patients better quality of life, doctors said on Thursday.
It was announced yesterday that the scientific advisory committee of the European Medicines Agency had issued a positive opinion supporting approval of the targeted oral anti-cancer drug, Gefitinib.
One oncologist said the drug comes at a time when lung cancer is on the rise in the UAE and there is a low awareness of the severe effects of smoking cigarettes and shisha.
Dr Shaheena Dawood, senior oncologist at Dubai Hospital, Dubai Healthcare Authority, speaking at a press conference to unveil a recent study on lung cancer treatment, said: "Sixty per cent of lung cancer patients in Dubai Hospital are smokers. The fact that Gefitinib got approval so quickly is very important. The next move is to disseminate the results of this study among the community of oncologists in the UAE and GCC so that they are aware about the options.
"It is also very important to educate the patients to make informed decisions. Targeted therapy is more convenient than chemotherapy and it has fewer side effects."
He said lung cancer is often only detected at advanced stages, and this underlines the importance of Gefitinib as a first line treatment where the ability to tolerate treatment reduces substantially with progression of the disease.
Dr Dawood attributed the fast-paced lifestyle of UAE residents to rising incidence of lung cancer.