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Cleveland Clinic Summit in Abu Dhabi hears of advancements in cancer care

Cleveland Clinic Summit in Abu Dhabi hears of advancements in cancer care
22 Apr 2024 08:29

Khaled Al Khawaldeh (Abu Dhabi)

Doctors, healthcare professionals, and VIP guests gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel, Abu Dhabi, over the weekend to learn from the best in the field of oncology on the latest solutions to battle the ever growing threat of cancer.

With cancer diagnosis lingering, and even increasing for those under 45, according to some studies, the Cleveland Clinic Global Summit on Innovations on Cancer Care was underpinned by a sense of urgency to ensure that the innovations of today would become tangible treatments sooner rather than later.

“Cancer patients deserve to not just survive cancer like a broken ship arriving at shore, but to thrive and live a qualitative and productive life,” said HH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan. 

“The good news is that the field of oncology has witnessed a remarkable surge in innovation revolutionising the way we understand, diagnose and treat cancer, from ground-breaking advancements in precision medicine to cutting edge technologies that harness the power of artificial intelligence.”

Princess Dina is a long-time champion of the fight against cancer, having been the former president of the Union for International Cancer Control. As part of the summit, she was presented with a global cancer awareness award for her advocacy work.

In her acceptance speech, Princess Dina emphasised the importance of ensuring that the solutions discussed would be available to all and would not create  “a tale of two cities”.

“Cancer treatment is entering a new frontier of impactful personalised medicine. Personalised Medicine that no longer relies on the trial-and-error method of chemo and radiation protocols,” she said.

“The irony is that personalised medicine in theory should drive down cost but the more it succeeded in personalisation the more that it escalated prices. Immunotherapy drugs are in the $10,000 to $20,000 per month range. This automatically excludes patients from low- and middle-income countries, as well as vulnerable and economically challenged populations.”

The Princess called on governments to take a leading role in abating this problem, saying they should intervene directly in markets to ensure equitable outcomes for patients. She also called for greater collaboration between scientific communities, and hailed partnerships, such as that of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) with its American counterpart, for their ability to bridge the gap in technology and information.

“Countries cannot wait passively for advances in cancer to come their way. It is only by owning the challenge brought about by their national cancer burden that they can lead them to the right foundation for cancer control innovation,” she said.

Dr. Faek El Jamali, Staff Physician and General Surgeon at CCAD Digestive Disease Institute, and the chair of this year’s summit, said the event was focussed on three main areas, clinical care, research, and education, with the aim of stimulating collaboration and innovation.

“What we have here is we have 30 very highly accomplished world experts in their field coming to share their expertise, their knowledge, their most recent innovations, and the most recent advances in the treatment of cancer,” Dr. El Jamali told Aletihad on the sidelines of the summit.

“It brings this knowledge to the region and it’s an opportunity for physicians to come and to participate and to get updated on the most up to date information in their field, interact with these world experts and use it as an educational opportunity.”

Dr. El Jamali said the visit of the esteemed physicians also allowed clinical care to be improved, with many of them, particularly those from the hospital’s sister campus in Ohio, USA, being utilised to access the progress of the clinic’s departments.

“When we bring experts like this, we have them visit Cleveland Clinic, visit the hospital, have a look at what we currently have, and work with them closely to evaluate the programmes that we have and use their input in order to improve things and improve clinical care,” he said.

“The final aspect of a conference like this is research and so a conference like this allows some of the top researchers to present the most up to date knowledge and it raises some very interesting region-specific questions.”

Dr. El Jamali emphasised the importance of collaboration, noting that it was central to Cleveland Abu Dhabi being able to deliver the exact same care as in Ohio. He also said that localised research, that considered the unique characteristics of the region’s population was also paramount in ensuring better results.

“The rising cancer rate is alarming. We’re seeing it in the young. I’m not exactly sure why there’s a lot of research. Some of it has been linked to diet. Some of it has been due to a neglected lifestyle. Some of it has been linked to excessive use of antibiotics during childhood. So, there’s a fair amount of research that’s happening in the field,” he said.

“Now, all of that research is happening in the Western countries. We need to do our own research here because I think we have our own unique challenges in the region,” Dr. Jamali said.

“I’m very optimistic that I think we will be able to make significant strides in the treatment of cancer going forward.”

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