AstraZeneca, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies recently organized the Gulf Lung Cancer Summit. The event, which was held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), brought together a broad range of multidisciplinary medical experts which included oncologists, pathologists, surgeons, as well as payers from the region.
Medical experts during the summit discussed the latest advancements in lung cancer treatment and focused on the latest treatment options for patients. Moreover, speakers also addressed both the global and local burden of lung cancer, and engaged in dialogues around the need for increased awareness to help improve detection and treatment of lung cancer.
During the Lung Cancer Summit, participants from the region stressed that lung cancer is not only one disease and can be categorized in two subtypes – non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
NSCLC is the most common form worldwide with approximately 85% and can be further divided into three types.
Furthermore, new studies showed that the treatment increases the overall survival and delays the advancement of lung cancer tumors for patients, while improving overall symptoms.
Across the Middle East, the prevalence of lung cancer is projected to double by 2020, with many factors attributing to the increase, bringing the number of expected new lung cancer patients to 14,788 for ages below 65, and 14,788 cases for ages above 65 in both males and females.
In the UAE, there is a higher exposure to lifestyle risk factors that lead to the development of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
This is coupled with a longer latency period between starting smoking and developing lung cancer. The aim is to enable them to have an early diagnosis, and treatment process, with the objective of reducing morbidity and improving the chances of survival.
Dr. Falah Al-Khatib, Consultant Oncologist-City Hospital said, “Lung cancer has become an increasing global burden. It is responsible for more than 1/5 of deaths around the world, and represents around 19.5% of deaths from cancer.
Lung cancer is more prevalent in men, with it being the leading cause of cancer of death in men in 87 countries and in 26 countries for women.
This year’s second Gulf Lung Cancer Summit hosted by AstraZeneca provided a platform to improve the management of lung cancer and address the specific unmet needs and clinical gaps in the care of patients with lung cancer.”
The summit allowed medical experts to come together and advance our knowledge and performance across the region as well as to continue dialogues to ensure up-to-date transfer of knowledge and improve patient awareness.
Here, in the UAE alone, lung cancer is the most common cancer amongst Emirati males (23% are smokers) but extremely rare in females (0.5% are smokers).
Education and awareness programs are important to drive screening rates for individuals who are at high risk and this year’s summit addressed this need.
Not all causes of lung cancer occur in smokers or former smokers. while there is a direct link between an unhealthy diet and increased lung cancer risk, research has shown that eating a healthy diet filled with fruit and vegetables may protect against lung cancer in both smokers and nonsmokers.
Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to lung cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, some specific genetic mutations are actually more common in non-smoking lung cancer patients than smokers.
Experts during the event also discussed the challenges of the treatment for NSCLC, since chemotherapy for an advanced level of this disease has reached a plateau.
The discussion focused on the importance of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) testing and the benefits of targeted therapies that are able to act on specific molecular structures or according to the mutation subtype.
Dr. Al-Khatib also added, “Personalized medicine uses the information about a person’s genes, proteins and environment to help prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.
With this, the medical community hopes to help find ways to prevent screen and manage the disease. By carrying out genetic tests on the cancer and normal cells, doctors will be able to personalize the treatment as per each patient’s requirements.
This form of treatment can reduce the unwanted treatment side effects and increases survival rates by 4 times compared to global rate of 5 years.
The benefits of this targeted therapy include longer patient surgical period, an increased in the time from when the tumor grows again from the start of treatment and above all an improved quality of life for the patient.’’
Moreover, Samer Al Hallaq, AstraZeneca’s Area Vice President-AstraZeneca Middle East also said, “At AstraZeneca, we are passionate about the discovery and development of innovative methods to support patients’ clinical outcomes.
We seek to provide a broad range of new therapies as well as practical solutions to advance the care of lung cancer patients in the UAE and wider region.
We are investing strongly in our lung cancer pipeline; through our lung cancer education and support initiative ‘Believe in Your Identity’ we are highlighting the importance of personalized treatment and how it can improve patient outcomes significantly including quality of life compared to chemotherapy.
This year’s lung cancer summit served as an opportunity to focus on AstraZeneca’s leading position in driving personalized lung cancer treatment.
All of our efforts are concentrated to change the paradigm of lung cancer treatment by focusing on personalized care and provide better patient outcomes through a comprehensive portfolio of personalized therapy.”