The Oman Cancer Association (OCA) has sounded a stark warning about a possible spurt in the prevalence of cancer in the Sultanate. Quoting a WHO affiliate, OCA president and chairman Dr Wahid Al Kharusi says that the incidence of the dreaded disease could double by 2025. The report of the International Agency for Research on Cancer notes that the number of new cancer cases registered could hit 2,700 in another seven years, making it necessary for the healthcare system to make some rapid adjustments to take care of the new cases. Al Kharusi calls for everybody concerned with health to spread awareness about cancer, its prevention, early detection and therapy. He is absolutely right when he says that every citizen has a role in spreading awareness about malignancies and thereby contributing to improving the general state of health of the people. What is startling is that up to 50 per cent of all cancer cases are preventable, provided people make enough lifestyle changes. That is why preventive care becomes the most important aspect of a national health strategy. And a large percentage of cancer cases are curable if detected and treated in time. There lies the importance of early detection which will not be possible without regular monitoring. OCA’s annual cancer awareness walkathon has a sterling role in raising people’s general level of awareness about malignancies, their prevention, detection and cure. It is a tribute to the untiring passion of the people behind OCA that walkathon, which had just 270 participants in 2000 when it began, has grown into a highly anticipated event with about 7,000 taking part last year, making the verdant Qurum Park awash with rippling pink. This year, the event scheduled for October 31, is expected to attract even better participation.
The importance of such events spreading awareness cannot be overstated as the World Cancer Congress has warned that 5.5 million women could be succumbing to cancer every year by 2030. This would mark a nearly 60 per cent jump in a span of a decade and a half. The menace would be worst in nations that are ageing fast where people live longer. Women would be the worst victims of the rise in cancer cases, a report by the American Cancer Society says. The acknowledgement in the report that most cancer deaths by then would be from preventable types of malignancy vindicates the OCA decision to focus on prevention through imparting right awareness about the condition. The significant participation of schools, banking institutions, social organisations and corporate houses must be appreciated. The high level of public participation shows the programme launched by OCA in schools and other institutions is indeed a success. The focus on prevention is a logical next step for the association that has striven to raise public awareness in the past several years. The high level of participation of women and girls is sending an important message across the nation. Studies show that women as a group are worst affected by cancer. Across the world one in seven women dies of cancer. All four deadliest cancers like breast, colo-rectal, lung and cervical malignancies are preventable if detected early.