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Lung Cancer Awareness Month commemorated in Egypt

CanSurvive, one of Egypt’s leading non-government organizations (NGOs) for cancer patients and survivors, held a conference on 29 November in the Four Seasons Cairo to mark the end of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Cairo has hosted cancer-related events, seminars, and workshops throughout November.

Prominent Egyptian oncologists and public figures attended the conference and shared the latest medical discoveries related to the illness.

CanSurvive, a non-profit operation, distributed a communique at the event, stating “As treatments improve, more people are living with cancer, yet patients and those who care about them face many challenges.”

The NGO aims to alleviate some of the physical, emotional and financial stress associated with cancer. It also works to inspire perseverance in all those whose lives are affected by disease.

According to CanSurvive officials, lung cancer is the most common type of cancer globally with 1.35 million cases diagnosed every year. It is the leading cause of cancer mortality and is responsible for nearly 1.18 million deaths each year, equal to two deaths every minute. Almost 50 percent of lung cancer cases are found in developing countries.

According to statistics released by the National Cancer Institute, lung cancer cases in Egypt represent 8.2 percent of total cancer cases in men and about 2.4 percent of total cases among women.

“Seventy percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage due to the lack of obvious symptoms,” claimed Dr. Yasser Abdel Qader, professor of Oncology and head of the Oncology Unit at Kasr al-Aini Hospital.

Abdel Qader said surgical intervention is an effective treatment if the disease is detected early. In advanced stages, patients are typically treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy or a combination of the two.

“Targeted therapy is another treatment breakthrough that has revolutionized cure rates by stimulating the immune system to inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells,” Dr. Abdel Qader told the conference.

During the event, Dr. Mohsen Mokhtar, CanSurvive chairman and assistant professor of Oncology at Cairo University, highlighted the close link between smoking and lung cancer.

“According to the WHO, smoking causes 90 percent of lung cancer cases in Egypt," he said. "The alarming fact is that waterpipe smokers tend to believe that it is safer than smoking cigarettes.”

According to Mokhtar, an hour-long waterpipe smoking session involves inhaling 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled in one cigarette.

“What many people don’t know is that commonly used heat sources applied to burn the tobacco are likely to increase the health risks because they produce toxins and cancer-causing chemicals,” Mokhtar said.

CanSurvive plans to launch numerous campaigns to raise awareness and fight this habit, Mokhtar continued.

Deputy Governor of Alexandria, General Safaa Eldin Kamel, urged the application of WHO initiatives to impose the same regulations on waterpipes and waterpipe tobacco as cigarettes and other tobacco products. Claims of waterpipe harm reduction and safety should be prohibited, he said, adding that public venues that ban cigarettes and other forms of tobacco smoking should apply the same ban to waterpipe use.

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