Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Promotes Screenings for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
People in Abu Dhabi are suffering from colorectal cancer 15 years earlier than their American counterparts.
According to Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health data, the median age at which people in the UAE are first being diagnosed with colorectal cancer, a malignant tumor that occurs in the colon or rectum, is just 55 years old. This UAE age compares with a median age of diagnosis of 70 in the United States.
Abu Dhabi doctors say that, while robust medical data explaining the reasons behind the lower age of first diagnosis remain incomplete, lack of exercise, poor diet, and insufficient awareness about the disease are likely to be behind the findings.
This March, doctors at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi are promoting greater awareness of colorectal cancer during the globally marked Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
As part of its month-long campaign, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi will be commissioning research into the levels of colon cancer awareness in the UAE, as well as conducting colon cancer screening education events.
“Colon cancer is unlike many other forms of cancer because it can be completely symptomless. And it’s entirely preventable,” says Dr. Shafik Sidani, Staff Physician, Colorectal Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. “The only way to be absolutely sure that you don’t have it is to go for a screening. What we have seen in other countries with longer established colorectal awareness campaigns is that the proportion of people dying of colorectal cancer is falling. We would love to replicate that preventive success here.”
Although colorectal cancer remains the third most common cause of cancer in Abu Dhabi and the fifth most common cause of cancer death, these figures could be reduced dramatically if more of the population got regular screenings.
Screenings can detect abnormal clusters of cells in the colon and rectum, known as polyps, before they develop into cancer. These can be easily removed by a surgeon, preventing the disease from ever developing.
They involve either a colonoscopy, which should be done every 10 years, or a fecal immunochemical test, which detects blood in a stool sample and is recommended every two years.
“An inactive lifestyle is one of the major factors for most non-communicable diseases, so we advise the public to exercise and eat healthily,” said Dr. Pascale Anglade, Staff Physician, Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. “Also attending regular screenings is vital so that, if pre-cancerous cells do develop, they can be dealt with quickly and easily.”
As a result of the lower age of first diagnosis, Abu Dhabi Department of Health guidelines suggest that people in the UAE should start screening at 40 years old rather than 50 – the standard screening age in most Western countries.
“If individuals get screened, we can find small and easily removable precancerous polyps and keep them from ever turning into cancer,” Dr. Anglade says.
“We advise anyone over the age of 40 in the UAE to talk to their healthcare provider about colon cancer screening,” she adds, “especially if they have a personal or family history of colon cancer, if they are suffering from inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or colitis, if they are obese, or smoke.”
According to the Department of Health, the youngest person to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer last year was just 16 while the oldest was 91.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Digestive Disease Institute provides gastrointestinal care for patients. It offers a number of advanced procedures including minimally-invasive and robotic bariatric, hernia, gastrointestinal, and colorectal surgeries, as well as cutting-edge endoscopic procedures for tumor resection and the treatment of achalasia, and pancreatic and biliary diseases.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is one of the Department of Health approved providers for colorectal cancer screening. To make an appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call 800 8 CCAD (800 8 2223).