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Sun 12 Oct 2008 08:29 AM

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Screening call to combat prostate cancer rise

Expert warns case could increase sharply in the UAE unless preventative action is taken.

Prostate cancer cases in the UAE could increase sharply unless men start to be screened for the disease, a leading expert has warned.

The disease has a cure rate of more than 90 per cent, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, but the majority of local cases seen are too late to be cured.

Dr Waleed Hassen, the chief of the urology department at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, called the situation "a travesty".

He told UAE daily The National on Sunday: “The majority of men we see coming to this hospital present with end-stage cancer, when it is not curable."

Men between the ages of 25 and 50 make up the largest age group in the UAE, according to census figures, meaning a critical mass are approaching the screening age of 50.

“Early screening saves lives,” said Hassen. “There is no question about it.”

Unlike many other cancers such as brain tumours or leukaemia, a prostate cancer sufferer usually only starts experiencing symptoms when the cancer spreads from the prostate gland, located in the pelvis, to other parts of the body.

Recent years have seen major drives in other countries, such as the United States and Britain, to promote awareness of prostate cancer and set up national screening programmes.

Yet in the UAE, screening is almost “non-existent”, added Hassen.

According to the UAE National Cancer Registry, there was a 212 per cent increase in the number of men being diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1998 and 2006. The registry showed 16 males were diagnosed in 1998, jumping to 50 in 2006.

This month Daman, the national insurance company in Abu Dhabi, added free annual prostate cancer screening to its plans for all men over the age of 45.

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