Dubai: The UAE is closer to achieving multidisciplinary care of patients suffering from cancer, said top officials atthe UAE Cancer Congress 2102..

Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Shaheenah Dawood, Congress president and head of medical oncology at Dubai Hospital, said, “The goal of the Congress which is being attended by leading regional and international faculty is to promote multidisciplinary care because residents diagnosed with cancer aren’t treated by one, but several health care professionals.”

She explained at Friday’s opening of the congress that the concept is new to the region. “It [concept] has shown in Europe and the US to definitively improve the prognostic outcome of cancer patients. In the UAE, we have several specialists to care for a patient with cancer. Bringing them together and linking all the specialities is the challenge now. We aim to educate the health care professionals from the first medical doctor a cancer patient might go to, like a general practitioner, to sub specialties like radiologists and counsellors. Through the Congress, we will discuss ways to link all these multiple specialties.”

When asked about the recent survey by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Dubai Statics Centre that suggests oncology services as one of the main reasons behind Dubai residents travelling abroad for treatment, Dr Dawood said, “Our services have significantly improved over the last few years. Plans are in place to increase oncology services. We are very close to offering comprehensive care in the UAE.”

She added, awareness has increased as has the incidence of cancer, including breast cancer and colon cancer, in the UAE, and efforts are in place to increase awareness and screening programmes.

DHA Director General Khalid Al Shaikh Mubarak said that a Congress of this strength is hugely important due to the increase in the incidence of various cancers. “We have defined best practice to deal with patients in the UAE. We are looking at understanding causes and Arab perceptions towards the disease.”

He added, over the years, the Congress has helped increase awareness as well as influenced positively the safety of patients.

Last year, the UAE Cancer Congress was awarded the first research grant.