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By Amina Abdul Salam

The Egyptian Society to Support Patients with Cancer recently organised the first forum of Arab associations working to combat cancer.

Dr Mohssen Moukhtar, Professor of Oncology Cairo University, says that for the first time all Arab associations concerned with fighting cancer have coordinated their efforts to combat cancer under the auspices of Arab League (AL).

Dr Moukhtar, Head of the Egyptian Society to Support Patients with Cancer, pointed out that Egypt has launched an initiative to raise awareness of the risks of cancer, “depending on the inter-connectedness of our Arab community.”

He said that the main target of the forum was to form an association of non-governmental associations (NGOs) supporting cancer patients and to unify efforts to help the Arab patient with cancer. He said that early detection of the disease was important for treatment.

Dr Mohamed Adel, Medical Director of the Saudi Cancer Association, praised the Arab League for hosting this forum. Prostate cancer, he said, is the third most prevalent kind of cancer in the Kingdom.

He said there there was effective treatment for curing prostate cancer. The role played by the media in support of cancer patients, he said, was no less important than the scalpel of the surgeon.


By Amina Abdul Salam

The seventh international Gastro-Intestinal Liver and Uro-Oncology Conference has revealed a new genetic map for colon tumours that led to creating different techniques for treatment, which have contributed to high recovery rates.

The event also revealed five new immune and targeted therapies for the treatment of tumours of the digestive system, in addition to the superiority of immuno-therapy over chemotherapy.

Dr Hisham el-Ghazali, Professor of Oncology, Ain Shams University and General Secretary of the Conference, said that the genetic map was divided into four, according to genome and resulting in different treatment strategies, especially in advanced stages.

The conference also announced the success of immune therapy in colon tumours with a 70 per cent response, compared to 10 per cent in chemotherapy for advanced colon tumours, Dr el-Ghazali said.

Also announced at the event was the appearance of five new drugs for tumours of the digestive system, the kidney and the prostate. Dr el-Ghazali said that a workshop of robot surgery was held during the conference and attended by Dr Amr Fergani, Urologist, Head of the Tumour Surgery Department, Cleveland, USA.

During one of the conference sessions, Dr Wahid Yussri, Professor of Oncology at the National Cancer Institute, focused on the chemotherapy technique of thermal heating to remove peritoneal tumours.

For the first time in Egypt, he said, the results of the most updated therapeutic protocol for the prevention of the spread of peritoneal tumours were announced during the conference.

Concerning the volume of tumours problem in Egypt, Dr Heba el-Zawahri, Professor of Oncology at the National Cancer Institute, said that tumours of the digestive system range from 16 to 20 per cent develop from cancerous tumours in general and are the most prevalent in men.

She added that the prevalence of primary liver cancer tumours is due to the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and also liver cirrhosis due to the effect of HCV which is the catalyst factor for affliction with malignant liver tumours.

The real reasons for the tumours in the digestive system among young people are smoking and narcotics because they cause severe and chronic inflammation of the stomach and colon.

She said that cases of liver tumours in Egypt are most common among men and women so studies showed that the infection rates have increased and cases of colorectal tumours were diagnosed at the age of 13 years old.

Therefore, studies are under-way at Ain Shams University and a number of research centres to get acquainted with the reasons behind the affliction of the young with cancerous tumours, Dr el-Zawahri said.

By Amina Abdul Salam

A press conference was held in Cairo recently to announce the availability of a new advanced breast cancer treatment here. It gave the results of the latest clinical trials for the drug Ribociclib.

Dr Hamdy Abdel Azim, Professor of Oncology at Kasr El-Aini, said, “The treatment of advanced breast cancer has made giant leaps in recent years, including the discovery of cyclin-dependent kinase, CDK inhibitors.

They are used to treat cancers by preventing over proliferation of cancer cells.
It has been established that these drugs, given in combination with traditional hormone therapy, achieve an unprecedented increase in improving symptom control and survival rates of up to two years with no disease activity.

These results represent a major breakthrough in the treatment of hormone-receptor positive breast cancer patients who account for 70 per cent of all breast cancer cases.

“The two separate studies, MONALEESA-2 and MONALEESA-7, were identically designed, incorporating the same treatment protocols but the average age of patients in the MONALEESA-2 study was 70 years, while the average age of patients in the MONALEESA-7 study was from 20 to 59 years (pre-menopause). The findings therefore demonstrated that the treatment was effective, regardless of the patient’s age.

Dr Amr Abdul Aziz, Professor of Oncology at Alexandria University, said, "The MONALEESA study which focused on treatment using ribociclib for women with advanced breast cancer showed significant improvement for participants. Eight weeks into the study a significant and sustained reduction in pain levels associated with the disease was evident, allowing patients to benefit from a longer recovery period before their conditions deteriorated, as opposed to patients who have undergone standalone hormone therapy.”

“Despite these breakthroughs, cancer remains a challenge for healthcare providers and scientists, with a significant number of patients suffering from primary tumours that are resistant to hormone therapy, while others develop a tolerance to treatment over time.

"There are about 115,000 new cancer cases diagnosed every year," Dr. Hisham Al-Ghazali, Professor of Oncology at Ain Shams University said, “Unfortunately, this number will increase to about 350,000 new cases annually by 2050, with 34 per cent of the cases – or almost 40,000 –involving breast cancer. This is equivalent to four cases per hour. This rise must be counteracted with comprehensive treatment plans and early check-ups, until recovery rates increase to more than 98 per cent, especially in the early stages of the disease.”

“There are five types of breast cancer, each with its own treatment protocol, and improved recovery rates accompany more advanced treatment. Breast cancer is triggered according to the level of hormone receptors (such as estrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors), with 75 per cent of tumours being hormone-receptor positive and hormone therapy is used to extend patient survival time frames, whether in the early or advanced stages of the disease.”

Dr Sherif Amin, General Manager of Novartis Oncology, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia &Morocco, said, “Our dedication to scientific research with the goal of providing cancer patients with more effective treatments clearly reflects the company's vision and commitment to patients and healthcare providers. The launch and registration of this drug in Egypt in record time is a major achievement.

By Menna Ali

Romanian-born pan-flutist Gheorghe Zamfir enthralled a large audience with his performance in Cairo on Friday night, in support of cancer patients all over the world. Speaking at a news conference before the concert, Zamfir, 76, said that he wanted to encourage cancer patients to use melotherapy to fight cancer and to overcome it.

“I am sure that the instrument I play has extraordinary powers not only to heal this deadly disease but to enrich the human soul as well,” Zamfir told reporters.

Zamfir said that he had conducted a great deal of research throughout his 60-year career on how music therapy can treat cancer. “I found out that the pan-flute is the most effective instrument in treating many diseases, especially cancer.”

“Music against Cancer” was the title of Zamfir’s concert which was attended by Minister of Culture Enas Abdel Dayem, a host of celebrities and public figures and more than 75 experts in the treatment of cancer, from all over the world.

The revenue from the charity concert was earmarked for the non-profit organisation Breast-Gynecological International Cancer Society (BGICS), in support of cancer patients, and to raise awareness of the importance of checking the disease which is spreading fast across the world.  “I know that people listen to celebrities. It is natural for people to go and check themselves if a celebrity asks them to do so. That is why I am encouraging everyone, everywhere to have themselves checked.

This will help patients to discover cancer early.  And this will help in the treatment of the disease, because as we know if the disease becomes chronic, it becomes hard to treat,” Zamfir said. The great musician added that he was pleased to be sending his message from Egypt. “I am very happy to be here to send this message to the world, especially as I am surrounded by Egyptians who have a very old civilisation,” he said.

This is the fourth time for Zamfir to visit Egypt. He gave a concert in 2009 at the Opera House in Cairo and Alexandria.“I am very happy to be here this evening. And I know that I am very lucky because everyone in the world dreams about visiting Egypt at least once in their lifetime. And this is my fourth time,” the veteran pan-flutist said, laughingly.

Zamfir is known as «The Master of the Pan Flute». He is especially famous for his piece, «The Lonely Shepherd», which was written by James Last, recorded with the James Last Orchestra and was first included on Last's 1977 album, Russland Erinnerungen (Memories of Russia).“If I could, I would love to treat all the people in the world at this very moment with my soul and heart,” Zamfir said.

March 8, 2018 - The first consumer test for three BRCA gene mutations associated with breast, ovarian and prostate cancer risk has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The three gene mutations are most common in people of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descent, but are not the most common BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations in the general population.

The test, from 23nMe, analyzes DNA from saliva collected by clients, the FDA said in an agency news release.

It noted that the test only checks for three of more than 1,000 known BRCA mutations and that a negative result does not rule out increased cancer risk.

The three mutations detected by the test occur in about 2 percent of Ashkenazi Jewish women, but only 0 to 0.1 percent of other ethnic groups, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

"This test provides information to certain individuals who may be at increased breast, ovarian or prostate cancerrisk and who might not otherwise get genetic screening, and is a step forward in the availability of [direct-to-consumer] genetic tests. But it has a lot of caveats," said Donald St. Pierre, acting director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

"While the detection of a BRCA mutation on this test does indicate an increased risk, only a small percentage of Americans carry one of these three mutations and most BRCA mutations that increase an individual's risk are not detected by this test," St. Pierre added.

"The test should not be used as a substitute for seeing your doctor for cancer screenings or counseling on genetic and lifestyle factors that can increase or decrease cancer risk," he said.

The test should also not be used by consumers or health care providers to decide on any treatments, including anti-hormone therapies and preventive removal of breasts or ovaries. Such decisions require thorough testing andgenetic counseling, the FDA added.