Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Fujairah: Cancer is becoming one of the leading causes of death in the UAE. It was ranked third after cardiovascular disease and trauma, as previously reported by Gulf News.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently predicted that the number of new cancer cases worldwide will increase to 27 million by the year 2030.

World Cancer Day was observed on February 4 and while issues were addressed by the healthcare sector, no major event was added to the social calendar so that residents could be reminded about the day's significance.

In a recent Gulf News poll, 84 per cent of respondents said they have not been screened for cancer, seven per cent said that they were screened and the remaining nine per cent said they are not worried about cancer.

City Talk took to the streets and asked residents if they have ever been screened for cancer and whether more cancer awareness campaigns should be conducted in the UAE.

Mohammad Ameen, chemist from Egypt, 26, said: "I have never been screened but I think that I should get it done soon because you can never be too careful. Everybody must be aware of the different types of cancer and I think there is not enough awareness about it here. There should be more advertisements in shopping centres and hospitals, and the newspapers can do their part by highlighting the issue as well."

Mayat Dungo, a Filipina, 55, said: "I was diagnosed with cervical cancer - stage three - back in June 2007 and any patient diagnosed with cancer should keep the faith, think positive and fight the condition. I was travelling to Al Ain for chemotherapy and back to Abu Dhabi every single day for a whole week and at the same time I was working. I also think that each and every single individual should learn to understand changes in their body more. In general, people should be aware of early detection and the importance of following a healthy diet."

Marina Bhandari, teacher from Ukraine, 34, said: "I have never been screened and will not do it any time in the near future because I think that I am not in one of the high-risk groups & I think that the authorities are doing a good job [in raising awareness]."

Dr Dya Zein Al Aabideen, Syrian dentist, 50, said: "I do have some tests carried out on regular basis, especially since my brother died of cancer last year. It is the duty of everyone to check themselves and follow up on even the smallest indicators of ill health because the damage of ignoring terminal illness can be very grave. Years ago, cancer was more of a taboo subject and it hindered people from confronting it, but I feel this is less now because there are so many cases of it that hardly any family is not affected."

Denise Le Roux, from South Africa, 47, said: "Cancer patients out there should undergo self-breast examinations and a yearly mammography to avoid late detection. I was diagnosed with Lobular Carcinoma, the most aggressive type of breast cancer most often present in both breasts. Throughout my chemotherapy, I battled the condition and did not miss one single day from work. I took the news calmly and decided to face the condition one day at a time. If you do not simply accept things as they are, your life turns miserable."

Catherine Hernandez, Filipina archive clerk, 27, said: "The majority of people are educated and people are more aware of the risks that can lead to cancer. It has now become common knowledge that if you do not wear sunscreen then you can get skin cancer. But I think that people should still be reminded about the causes of cancer and they should not be afraid to get screened."

Zubair Ahmad Khan, a Pakistani transport supervisor, 50, said: "There should be more efforts to help prevent the condition. I think the first cause of cancer is tobacco smoking & Campaigns to ban smoking would be a great start. Also, more programmes about cancer should be introduced, preferably via radio, Internet and television."

Your comments

I am quite worried about my health, one day I was facing difficulty in passing urine. I waited for three weeks for a medical test. Finally, a CT scan showed the beginning of a tumour at the mouth of urinary bladder. I was referred from one hospital to the other for a cystocscopy and faced problems making payments because of my health card. I had to pay the full amount and get reimbursed by my insurance company later. I spent nearly Dhs4500 by cash for warded invoices for the refunding to my insurance company. I wonder why there are such laws. Why do hospitals not accept every insurance card. What is the use of insurance if they don?t help in such severe diseases. Now I find difficulty in getting a second scan. After my operation, my doctor told me that it was the very initial stage of cancer and I was very happy that it could be cured because it was in the initial stage. I am not bothered about cancer, it is just like a normal disease for me. My job or my social activities will not be effected. But I have a request - health authorities should help unify insurance requirements and we should get equal privilege regardless of the company we get insured from. Personally I could not afford cash payment, so my company helped pay the amount. I was little mentally upset even just a day before my operation.
P. C. Ummer
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: February 08, 2009, 15:48