Cancer death rates across the world have decreased by 27% in the last two decades.
Qatar is planning to reduce cancer death rates by 25% by 2025, according to Dr. Kholoud Al Mutawa, Head of the Non-communicable Diseases Department at the Ministry of Public Health.
Awareness has been identified as the first step towards achieving the goal. A number of oncologists in Qatar have emphasised the need to change societal perceptions about cancer by promoting awareness, particularly regarding the value of early detection, accessible treatments and survivors.
According to Dr. Al Mutawa, while there is a general understanding of the value of receiving treatment and visiting a hospital, many social groups have a considerable fear of cancer and its repercussions.
She explained that the ministry works to increase understanding, dispel myths and emphasise the value of early detection in order to prevent disease and allow medical professionals to treat cancer in its early stages.
From 2001 to 2020, the number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people decreased by 27%, from 196.5 to 144.1. This is attributed to the enhancement in technology and treatment plans, in addition to broader awareness and early detection.
Dr. Al Mutawa pointed out that the national campaign’s activities include a series of awareness workshops that authorities use to educate the public.
She further highlighted the importance of informing members of the community about the value of early detection to encourage them to head to health facilities for regular check-ups.
Amid Abu Humaidan, Director of the National Cancer Registry, emphasised the importance of societal awareness-building by stating that the biggest societal misperception is the association of cancer with death.
In part, because so many patients have endured long-term cancer treatment, cancer has a chronic nature similar to that of diabetes and high blood pressure.
Early detection and routine screening are key to treating cancer; if the patient has late stages of the illness, therapy can be challenging, he noted.
In support of the nationwide campaign, the Ministry of Public Health organised a workshop for the media in partnership with the Qatar Cancer Society, Primary Health Care, and Hamad Medical Corporation to address the common misconceptions about cancer and increase public awareness.