What data do we have on cancer in the Middle East?
- Unfortunately, there is not enough data on cancer in the Middle East to be able to make a solid analysis of the cancer situation in the region.
- Over half the countries in the Middle East are considered low-to-middle-income countries, and as such are part of the developing world.
- However, most of the countries in the Middle East – both rich and poor- struggle with the same issues as other developing countries with regards to cancer, and are each at different stages of cancer control.
How developed is cancer care in the Middle East?
- Some countries have absolutely no infrastructure for cancer treatment; some have infrastructure but no system to deliver comprehensive cancer care; others lack the human resources and knowhow to provide effective treatment.
- Overall, there is a deficit of experienced cancer specialists with many local talents seeking more lucrative positions in Europe and North America.
- As with most of the developing world, the Middle East struggles with the high costs of cancer drugs.
Why has cancer become such a big problem in the region?
- The region is also faced with a very strong stigma where cancer is concerned.
- Most governments and policy-makers avoid dealing with the issue of cancer head on comprehensively through prevention, early detection, treatment and palliation, either because they are simply unaware of the gravity of the situation or because they find the cancer crisis too big and complicated an issue to address with the all too common perception that the cancer epidemic cannot be resolved.
- However, by 2020 there will be over 360,000 new cancer cases in the Arab world each year and so clearly, action is needed now.
Are there any regional statistics available on cancer rates?
As mentioned before, there isn't much comprehensive data available on cancer in the region, however some figures are available, such as the chart below:
Source: CIA Online World Fact book, All Country Background Data