Posted on February 04, 2018

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is joining healthcare organizations across the globe to mark World Cancer Day, held annually on 4 February. With research indicating that exercise and eating healthily can reduce the risk of being diagnosed with cancer, an expert at HMC says more than a third of all cancers can be prevented through lifestyle changes.

In recognition of World Cancer Day, HMC’s National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR), with support from the Qatar Cancer Society, has organized a public awareness event on 4 February. The event, which will be held in the main lobby of NCCCR from 8am to 1pm, will feature educational activities for patients, visitors, and staff. Members of the cancer care team will provide health advice and educate visitors about the signs and symptoms of the disease and the importance of early detection and preventive measures such as good nutrition and physical activity.

According to statistics released by the Qatar National Cancer Registry (QNCR), a total of 1466 new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2015. Breast cancer was the most common cancer among females (39.41 percent), and prostate cancer was most common among males (11.96 percent), followed by colorectal cancer. Cancer is now the second leading cause of death in Qatar, accounting for 18 percent of all fatalities, compared to 10 percent in 2010. Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health said: “Cancer is a serious disease affecting the health and well-being of many people both in Qatar and worldwide. This year’s World Cancer Day activities build on the progress we have already made over the past few years to raise awareness amongst the public about how they can take ownership of their health to reduce their risk of cancer.”

Her Excellency, Dr. Al Kuwari continued: “The elimination of the most common cancers in the population of Qatar is a priority. Through research, education, support, and awareness, there have been substantial changes in the way cancer is identified, diagnosed, and treated in the country.  With access to high-quality cancer services and the provision of dedicated, specialized care, the cancer treatment landscape continues to improve with more cases being diagnosed earlier and survival rates continuing to improve.”

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Research indicates that an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity are two key factors that can increase a person’s risk of being diagnosed with cancer. This risk can, however, be reduced through implementing simple steps such as taking a brisk 30-minute walk every day and eating in moderation. Professor Alexander Knuth, Medical Director and Chief Executive Officer of the NCCCR and Chairman of Cancer Services at HMC said: “World Cancer Day represents a great opportunity for us to reflect on what we have done in the past, what we are doing now, and what we are planning to do in the future to reduce the impact of this devastating disease. It is also an opportunity to educate people more effectively about the facts of cancer and reinforce the message that prevention and early detection can save lives.”

Under the campaign theme, ‘We can. I can,’ which was launched in 2016, World Cancer Day aims to draw attention to what can be done to prevent millions of avoidable deaths as a result of cancer. The global health day also highlights the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking and staying safe in the sun.

Commenting on HMC’s contribution to World Cancer Day, Dr. Usama Al Homsi, Senior Consultant with the Oncology Department at NCCCR said: “Supporting WCD is one of the annual initiatives that enable us to educate people and broaden their understanding of cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment. World Cancer Day is also an effective weapon in dispelling the many myths and misconceptions about cancer that can adversely affect people’s attitude to accessing early diagnosis, treatment, and care. With more than a third of all cancers being preventable through lifestyle changes, we call on individuals to take responsibility for reducing their own cancer risk. Simple measures such as stopping smoking, eating less red and processed meat, and exercising regularly can lead to a longer and healthier life, and must be seen as the first line of defense against cancer and other associated non-communicable diseases,” Dr. Al Homsi concluded.

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