Abu Dhabi: Despite existing treatment facilities, oncological care is still the top reason why patients in the UAE travel abroad for treatment.

To serve these patients, the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has broken ground on an oncology centre that will offer comprehensive cancer care when it opens in 2021, it was announced in the capital today (April 15).

The 17,000-square-metre centre will be modelled on Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Centre in Ohio, and provide diagnostic, medical, surgical, palliative and adjunctive services.

Cancer is known to be the third leading cause of death in Abu Dhabi.

“This expansion of cancer services at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi marks a significant step in the fight against the disease in the UAE. Patients will get access to centralised oncology services, which will complement the existing healthcare landscape,” said Waleed Al Muhairi, chairman at the hospital and deputy group chief executive officer at Abu Dhabi Government-owned investment firm, Mubadala.

Dr Rakesh Suri, chief executive officer at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said over 2,000 patients have been treated at the hospital since it began offering surgical and medical care for cancer patients about two years ago.

“For instance, we were able to remove a heart tumour from a patient who had very recently delivered her baby. We’ve been providing chemotherapy to patients as well,” Dr Suri said.

“When the oncology centre opens, we will also be able to offer other services that are not currently available, such as diagnostic services and radiotherapy, as well as adjunctive services for patients and their families like the provision of prostheses, wigs and physical therapy,” he added.

The oncology centre’s offerings will also be boosted by physicians who specialise in specific cancer subspecialties, such as breast cancer or lung cancer.

“These physicians are well-versed with specific cancers, and can offer targeted care for patients,” explained Dr Mohammad Masri, consultant for hematology and oncology at the hospital’s Medical Subspecialties Institute.

In addition, the hospital aims to facilitate cancer-related research through the upcoming centre.