Clinical lead Doctor Al Story points to an x-ray showing a pair of lungs infected Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Nearly 150 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in the UAE each year, and while smoking accounts for the majority of them, medical experts say other factors like genetics and lifestyle conditions are also increasing the rate of lung cancer in the country.

“There’s been a misconception that only smoking causes lung cancer. However, it is to be noted that in addition to smoking, exposure to radon gas, air pollution and having a family history can increase the chance of lung cancer,” said Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, consultant medical oncologist at Tawam Hospital, Al Ain and the president of the UAE Oncology Society.

Nearly half of the patients who are diagnosed already present advanced cancers that are incurable.

In addition, there has been an increase in population of smoking in the last 20 years in the UAE. In contrast, the rate of smoking in the USA has declined for the first time by 60 per cent compared with 1960 as per a study published few days ago.

“While lung cancer is more prevalent with the male population, there has been an increase in number of women who smoke hookah, increasing the chances of this life-threatening medical condition even within the female population,” added Dr Al Shamsi said.

“While smoking is the primary cause of cancer, there are a good number of patients, around 15 to 20 per cent, who have no exposure to smoking and yet suffer from the medical condition. In an effort to ensure that individuals have access to right treatment at the right time, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain have introduced a programme to screen heavy smokers over the age of 50, with a history of smoking for at least 10-15 years. They can qualify for CT scan of the chest to make sure there is no early cancer,” the doctor added.

“Oncology is one of the therapeutic areas where we endeavour to deliver novel medicines to patients with cancer worldwide. Lung cancer is a niche area where we are working to leverage on our world-class capabilities aiming to boost our research and development in this segment,” added Maged Kamel, executive director for medical and regulatory affairs at Takeda Near East, Middle East and Africa region. Takeda is a global pharmaceutical company that is working to increase its product offerings in oncology.