Healthcare professionals participating in the second interdisciplinary forum on lung cancer emphasized the role of enhancing lung cancer screening tests for patients at high risk in reducing the disease-related death rate in the Arab Gulf region, which includes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where lung cancer ranks seventh among cancers. It is most prevalent in the region, and accounts for about 4.6% of all cancers. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, lung cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths, and there are expectations for the incidence of it to rise dramatically over the next decade.
About 60% to 80% of cases in the Arab Gulf region are currently diagnosed in advanced stages, with the five-year survival rate dropping to 10 to 20%, and in more than 90% of cases, the cancer had spread outside the lung when Diagnosis, which confirms the necessity of periodic screening of high-risk individuals with the aim of early detection and improvement of survival rates.
There is also a need for more integrated screening programs to aid in early diagnosis at the district level. Although rapid and highly sensitive testing for lung cancer (known as low-dose CT) is available for people at high risk, national screening programs are still available. Low absorption capacity. The most prominent obstacles mentioned include the slow transformation from the concept of curative health to preventive health, as well as the need for dedicated awareness programs for lung cancer detection among public and primary health care workers.
Dedicated systems should also be in place to summon high-risk people to undergo screening. The forum addressed the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on early detection efforts, with the low referral rate and gaps in the means of brief care for acute cases, which pose troubling challenges. Promising and more integrated programs are being developed in many Gulf countries, where telemedicine and telemetry technologies can make a quantum leap in reaching patients in rural areas who cannot visit specialized cancer centers.
Next-generation genetic sequencing technology has become widely available to patients diagnosed with lung cancer in the Arab Gulf region, as the pioneering precision medicine survey relies on the analysis of genetic markers that can be targeted with specific drugs within the tumor.
As part of the trend towards targeted therapy, a new treatment option was recently approved by the Saudi Society for Food and Nutrition for patients suffering from non-small cell lung cancer in its early stages, where a genetic mutation contributes to the spread of cancer cells. During clinical trials, these patients were given third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors as adjuvant therapy after tumor removal. And it found that the treatment reduced disease recurrence, which is a common occurrence in the early stage, by 80%, compared with those who take a placebo.
Commenting on this topic, Dr. Abdul Rahman Jazia, Director of the International Program at the Cincinnati Foundation for Cancer Consultants, Assistant Professor of Oncology at Alfaisal University, and Chair of the Forum said: “The Lung Cancer Forum comes after regional experts’ consensus on the need to support advanced lung cancer treatment in the Gulf region. Arab and improving the general patient experience from a multidisciplinary perspective.
The forum stated that the death rate could be reduced by 30% if 50% of those exposed to lung cancer were screened. Where guidelines issued by the Saudi Lung Cancer Society have been developed and resources are also available to screen for the disease, but they are not used adequately in most cases. The forum stressed the importance of cooperation to design complete care plans and methods for cancer patients, starting from facilitating access to screening facilities for all suspected cases, to providing sustainable and high-quality care plans and rehabilitation programs. Whereas, it is necessary to design a clear roadmap to improve lung cancer care, to review current guidelines on screening and to ensure that the best standards are set and implemented, in addition to cooperation at the regional level to share experiences and research that contribute to building evidence of results and determining cost-effectiveness.