National and global experts discuss the future of cancer management in the United Arab Emirates

  • The Executive Team of the National KPIs for Cancer and Cardiac mortality in UAE highlighted the importance of prevention at a discussion with industry experts
  • Nearly 190 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in the UAE every year. Genetics and lifestyle conditions contribute to the rising prevalence[1]
  • Officials shed light on the importance of immunotherapy in increasing survival rates and the hope it brings to cancer patients with treatment intentions
  • Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that releases the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer[2]
  • The UAE is determined to bring down cancer mortality rates, in line with the country’s national healthcare agenda[3]
  • New lung cancer screening guidelines focus on early detection for people over 55 who are current or former heavy smokers[4]

The United Arab Emirates – 8 February 2019: Officials from The Executive Team of the National KPIs for Cancer and Cardiac mortality in UAE along with international industry leaders addressed key guidelines for cancer management in the United Arab Emirates at a medical event, which was held recently at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel.

As part of the discussion, experts focused on the latest advancements in lung cancer treatment options for patients. Moreover, attendees addressed the burden of lung cancer in the UAE and engaged in dialogues around the need for increased awareness to help improve detection and treatment of lung cancer.

The event, which was supported by AstraZeneca, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, shed light on cancer incidences in the UAE, accounting for 15% of annual deaths. Officials also noted the new hope that immunotherapy brings to patients, the evolving era of Immuno-oncology and how Immunotherapy is fitting within the current treatment landscape for the management of lung cancer patients.

Dr. Muna AlKuwari, Director of Specialized Healthcare Department at the Ministry of Health and Prevention said, “Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality amongst UAE nationals and the third amongst the expatriate community. New global cancer data suggests that in 2018, the lung cancer burden has risen as the most common cancer with 2.094 million new cases and 1.8 million deaths, becoming the leading cause of death globally. These are alarming statistics, ones that reflect our continued efforts to work towards achieving the UAE’s vision which is focused on reducing cancer mortality rates by 2021. We are glad to be participating in leading discussions that help place prevention programs at the forefront of the treatment process.”

Immuno-Oncology treatment can offer significant benefits to lung cancer patients, including those for whom other treatments are ineffective. Some patients with advanced lung cancer have benefited greatly from immunotherapies, experiencing durable remissions and prolonged survival.[5] According to the PACIFIC trial, there was a significant increase in survival by reducing the risk of death by 32%.[6][7]

Today, lung cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer mortality globally, responsible for nearly 1 in 5 cancer-related deaths, or an estimated 1.6 million people[8]. Immunotherapy represents a major advancement for lung cancer patients. Recent advancements in immunotherapy demonstrate an overall survival benefit for patients with unresectable, stage III non-small cell lung cancer following chemoradiation therapy. This brings new hope to patients in a setting where survival rates have not changed in decades. This event is an example of driving meaningful partnerships that aim at achieving the country’s national health agenda of providing a world-class healthcare infrastructure, by addressing specific unmet needs and clinical gaps in patient care

In addition, Professor Solange Peters, Elected President of ESMO for 2020-2021, and Head of the Medical Oncology Service, Chair of Thoracic Oncology at the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland also noted, “More than 100 years after William B. Coley, MD, used bacterial toxins to goad the immune system into recognizing cancer cells as foreign to the body and mount an immune response to go after and kill them, the recognition of immunotherapy as a powerful anticancer therapy is finally being realized. Today, immunotherapy for the treatment of a variety of cancers is rapidly evolving, from therapies that nonspecifically stimulate the immune system to more targeted ones that activate individual components of the immune system, increasing efficacy of the treatment while decreasing toxicity. Immunotherapy is revolutionizing cancer care. Clearly, immunotherapy is already part of routine care for patients with advanced, but also stage III non-small cell lung cancer.”

When lung cancer is detected early, it is often because of tests that were being done for other medical conditions.[9] In the UAE, approximately 4,500 new cases of cancer are reported in a year[10].

Peter Raouf, AstraZeneca’s Gulf Oncology Business Unit Director & MEA Oncology Strategy Lead, “, Patients remain at the core of everything we do. That is why, at AstraZeneca, we are passionate creating partnerships with the public and private sector to focus on supporting patients’ unmet needs. We seek to provide new therapies such as immuno-oncology to advance the care of cancer patients in the UAE and the wider region. Having this latest immuno-oncology modality means we will be able to help more patients. We will continue to drive our efforts to change the paradigm of cancer treatment by focusing on immuno-oncology and provide better treatment options in the UAE and the region as a whole.”

AstraZeneca is prioritizing lung cancer research to address the significant unmet need for treatments at every stage of the disease continuum. Our focus is primarily on non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which accounts for 80 to 85 percent of all lung cancer cases globally.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three therapy areas – Oncology, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism and Respiratory. The Company also is selectively active in the areas of autoimmunity, neuroscience and infection. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.

For more information, please visit www.astrazeneca.com and follow us on Twitter @AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca in the Gulf

As one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the Gulf, AstraZeneca is focused on developing innovative medicines to treat diseases in important therapy areas impacting public health. Their success is based on our commitment to serving the needs of the patients and improving their health.

AstraZeneca believes in maintaining high ethical standards of business practice. Aiming to effectively manage that responsibility, they find new ways of bringing benefit to society and thereby ensure that AstraZeneca continues to be welcomed as a valued member of the local community.

About AstraZeneca in Oncology

AstraZeneca has a deep-rooted heritage in Oncology and offers a quickly-growing portfolio of new medicines that have the potential to transform patients’ lives and the Company’s future. With at least six new medicines aimed to be launched between 2014 and 2020 and a broad pipeline of small molecules and biologics in development, we are committed to advance New Oncology as one of AstraZeneca’s five Growth Platforms focused on lung, ovarian, breast and blood cancers. In addition to our core capabilities, we actively pursue innovative partnerships and investments that accelerate the delivery of our strategy as illustrated by our investment in Acerta Pharma in hematology.

By harnessing the power of four scientific platforms – Immuno-Oncology, Tumor Drivers and Resistance, DNA Damage Response and Antibody Drug Conjugates – and by championing the development of personalised combinations, AstraZeneca has the vision to redefine cancer treatment and one day eliminate cancer as a cause of death.


[1] https://gco.iarc.fr/today/online-analysis-pie?v=2018&mode=cancer&mode_population=continents&population=900&populations=784&key=total&sex=0&cancer=39&type=0&statistic=5&prevalence=0&population_group=0&ages_group%5B%5D=0&ages_group%5B%5D=17&nb_items=7&group_cancer=1&include_nmsc=1&include_nmsc_other=1&half_pie=0&donut=0&population_group_globocan_id=#collapse-group-0-3

[2] Understanding Immuno-Oncology I https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/Immuno-Oncology-and-vaccines/understanding-Immuno-Oncology

[3] The Official Portal of the UAE Government | Cancer | https://government.ae/en/information-and-services/health-and-fitness/chronic-diseases-and-natural-disorders/cancer-

[4] The Department of Health | HAAD | https://www.haad.ae/simplycheck/tabid/112/Default.aspx

[5] How is Immuno-Oncology Changing the Outlook for Patients with Lung Cancer I https://cancerresearch.org/immunotherapy/cancer-types/lung-cancer

[6] Overall Survival with Durvalumab after chemoradiotherapy in Stage III NSCLC | The New England Journal of Medicine | https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1809697

[7] Antonia SJ, et al. N Engl J Med. 2017;377(20):1919-1929

[8] How is Immuno-Oncology Changing the Outlook for Patients with Lung Cancer? I https://cancerresearch.org/Immuno-Oncology/cancer-types/lung-cancer

[9] Can Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Be Found Early? I https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/detection.html

[10] https://government.ae/en/information-and-services/health-and-fitness/chronic-diseases-and-natural-disorders/cancer-

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