By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: The National Cancer Awareness Campaign (CAN) announced the launch of a cancer awareness campaign for January during a press conference on Monday, in the presence of Chairman of the Campaign Dr Khalid Ahmad Al-Saleh, in-charge of the thyroid cancer awareness initiative Dr Eman Matar Al-Shemmari and in-charge of the early awareness campaign for youth cancer Dr Maryam Abdul Mohsen Al-Otaibi.

Dr Saleh expressed his gratitude for announcing the launch of the initiatives that aim to educate young people of both sexes about cancers, as they represent 72 percent of the Kuwaiti society. He also praised efforts by CAN to raise awareness of thyroid cancer. "This is an important opportunity to highlight the importance of early detection of thyroid diseases, including thyroid cancer. Thyroid disorders are common among women due to the association of the female hormone estrogen with the thyroid hormone," he said.

"Based on statistics of the Kuwait Cancer Control Center (KCCC), thyroid cancer ranked second in the country from 2014 to 2018, with approximately 500 cases, including 137 cases among men, a rate of 1.4 cases per 100,000 people, and 363 cases among women, a rate of 6.8 cases per 100,000 people," he said. Dr Saleh indicated that early detection of thyroid cancer achieves high recovery rates of up to 90 percent, stressing the importance of awareness for all groups.

KUWAIT: Attendees pose for a group photo during the launch of the cancer awareness campaign on Monday.

Dr Shemmari spoke about the thyroid cancer awareness campaign, explaining that although thyroid cancer ranks fifth in terms of the most common cancers in Kuwait, death due to this type of cancer is very low, with a mortality rate of less than 2 percent of total cases." After stopping for more than two years due to COVID-19, the awareness campaign returned this year to its usual activities. Five health centers have been selected to be responsible for answering inquiries from patients and visitors regarding the disease," she said. Dr Shemmari pointed out treatment protocols approved by the Ministry of Health in Kuwait are presented through lectures given to doctors and nursing staff in governmental hospitals.

Dr Otaibi said the early awareness campaign for youth group cancers is the first of its kind in Kuwait, GCC and Middle East, as this campaign targets a specific age group and not a specific tumor, while previous awareness campaigns educated people about specific types of tumors such breast, colon and prostate cancers. "Through our work in the treatment of oncology, we have noticed a large segment of young people under 40 who suffer from various types of cancers, the most common of which are breast, thyroid, colon and urinary tract cancers," she said.

Despite the development of early detection methods and rise in early diagnosis of cancer and thus the increase in the recovery rate, Dr Otaibi said this does not apply to this age group, as early detection does not include those under 40."The number of cancer cases were diagnosed in this age category is 532, according to the latest statistics of the Kuwait Cancer Control Center, which is approximately 20 percent of the number of cancer cases are diagnosed annually, with breast cancer constituting 26 percent of cases, followed by thyroid cancer with 22 percent, colorectal cancer with 23 percent and urinary tract cancers at 17 percent," she said.

Dr Otaibi said the idea of this initiative was launched to educate young people in this age group about the most common types of cancers, their symptoms, how to prevent them and raise awareness of the risk factors that increase the incidence of cancer, such as smoking.