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New Technique for Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer Now Available in the UAE



A lack of health literacy and cultural barriers are to blame for the frequent occurrence of colorectal cancer, which results in 200 new cases being reported annually in the UAE. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in women and the second most common cancer in men in the country. It essentially influences individuals over 40, and prevention through regular screening is referred to as the best method for protecting against it.

Colorectal cancer can spread throughout the body without showing any obvious symptoms. By the time symptoms appear, cancer typically has advanced to a significant degree and may necessitate a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. A survey conducted by Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) found that 63% of respondents believed that regular colorectal cancer screening was unnecessary due to the absence of any troubling symptoms. This indicates a lack of health literacy in the region. The fear of suffering, the fear of contracting a serious illness, and shame were all factors that discouraged Emiratis.

Dr. Aref Chehal, Consultant Oncologist at Sheik Shakhbout Medical City, in partnership with Mayo Clinic, says a change in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal pain or distress, ongoing fatigue, and unexplained weight reduction may all signal the presence of colorectal cancer. “The typical starting point for colorectal cancer is the formation of small, benign polyps on the colon’s lining. However, over time some of these polyps may develop into cancerous growths. To prevent this, a colonoscopy can be performed to identify and remove any polyps before they can become cancerous.”

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in the United Arab Emirates. Yet, it is likewise one of the least demanding diseases to prevent when detected early, with fixed rates as high as 95%. “Colonoscopy is highly recommended for women and men every 10 years from age 40 as this is the age group where around 80 per cent of all colorectal cancers are found. A FIT test, which looks at stool samples, can be taken annually and is especially important for those with a family history of this type of cancer,” says Dr. Chehal.

The UAE-approved Artificial Intelligence-powered technology, GI Genius, is setting a new norm for early colorectal cancer detection. “The system has been shown to significantly improve visualisation during colonoscopies, which increases the accuracy of detecting pre-cancerous polyps in the colon. This leads to a 50 percent reduction in the risk of death from colorectal cancer,” explains Dr. Chehal. The GI Genius module has been successfully used by SSMC to screen over 300 patients since April 2022.

Colorectal cancer can be treated with a variety of approaches, including surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted drug therapy, and interventional procedures, depending on the stage and location of the disease. From the full range of laparoscopic and robot-assisted colorectal methodology, which lessen pain, blood loss, and recovery time while assisting patients with protecting ordinary capability and staying away from colostomy bags to Ostomy Polypectomy Laparoscopic surgery, a partial colectomy, lymph node removal surgery, endoscopic mucosal resection, resection of metastasis, HIPEC (heated intra-peritoneal chemotherapy), adjuvant and palliative care, and numerous others, patients have numerous options available to them.

“However, prevention is better than cure. And the best way to safeguard yourself is to undergo regular check-ups and screenings if you are 40 or above. It is the only way to increase chances of early detection and the most effective way to increase survival rates,” he adds.

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