Dubai: Tackling cancer effectively requires a holistic approach to screening, diagnosis and treatment.

In the UAE, where the government takes an active role in cancer treatment, the process can involve several centres in both the private and public sector, with varying costs for the different services.

Screening and diagnosis takes place at private hospitals such as the American Hospital in Dubai and a few medical centres, such as the Well Woman's Clinic. Private clinics also refer patients to hospitals where a more comprehensive range of screening and diagnosis tools are available. Screening procedures include pap smears and mammograms for women, prostate exams for men, and colonoscopies for both genders.

According to its website, the American Hospital in Dubai conducts cancer screening for both men and women. The “well-man'' package for men above 40 years of age includes consultation and screening for prostate and lung cancer and costs Dh3,700, while the “well-woman'' package includes consultation and screening for breast and cervix cancer for Dh2,100. Both packages also include colon screening.

The cost of a consultation at private medical centres varies from Dh500 to slightly less than Dh1,000. Biopsies, used to determine whether a tumour is benign or malignant, can cost from Dh600 to Dh1,200 or more. Labwork, consisting of blood tests, X-rays and cultures, usually starts at Dh200, depending on the type of tests conducted.

At public hospitals, screening and diagnostics costs are lower. Dr Fareed Khalifa, head of oncology at Dubai Hospital, told Gulf News that each stage of the treatment process can cost up to Dh1,400.

“The tests conducted includes X-rays and blood tests. Patients need to pay for each cycle of tests. It usually costs about Dh1,000.

“Outpatients will also have to pay for drugs [related to the side-effects of cancer treatment], such as anti-nausea medication and painkillers, costing about Dh300 to Dh400,'' he said.

He added that, depending on the stage at which the cancer was detected, a factor which usually affects the chance of success, treatment can last for a few months to more than a year.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy is performed free of charge at the three cancer centres in the UAE, and drugs are also provided at no cost to inpatients at Dubai Hospital.

UAE nationals seeking cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment at government hospitals do not have to pay.

How much does it cost?

This table lists the range of treatment costs for cancer in Dubai. Prices vary according to individual cases and the institutions involved.

Private (from screening to diagnosis)

Consultation Dh500 to Dh1,000
Labwork from Dh200 upwards per test
Biopsies Dh600 to more than Dh1,000
Diagnostic tests (mammograms and ultrasound)
Dh660 to more than Dh2,000

Public (from screening to diagnosis to treatment)
Consultation, labwork and biopsies about Dh1,000 per cycle
Diagnostic tests (mammograms and ultrasound) free unless noted
Radiotherapy/Chemotherapy free
Outpatient drugs about Dh400 per cycle

With inputs from Dina El Shammaa, Staff Reporter