Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Launches Colon Cancer Awareness Campaign

Dr. Ammar Kheir, a gastroenterologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, have a simple prescription they say could significantly reduce the number of colorectal cancer deaths in the UAE.

Colorectal cancer (also known as bowel cancer) ranks as the second most common cause of cancer death worldwide. Data from the Ministry of Health and Prevention shows colorectal cancers are among the deadliest in the nation, accounting for 12% of cancer deaths in 2017, the last year for which national data is available.[1] However, small changes to diet, exercise and regular screening and adhering to the National Colorectal Cancer Prevention Program, could dramatically reduce the toll it takes on the community.

“What we really want for everyone to understand is that colorectal cancer can affect all of us and no one is protected. But the good news is, it can be easily prevented by a simple, safe and a quick examination such as a colonoscopy or even a stool test. Unfortunately, many of the colorectal cancer cases we see at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi occur in healthy young men and women who don’t smoke and have no family history of the disease. The majority of these cases could be prevented with proper screening,” explains Dr. Ammar Kheir, a gastroenterologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

While certain risk factors such as age and family history cannot be controlled, there are a number of lifestyle factors that can reduce a person’s risk of developing the disease. Stopping smoking, being more physically active, eating more fiber, and eating less red meat have all been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, but do not substitute the need for colorectal cancer screening. For people with a family history of the disease, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi offers a genetic counseling service that can quantify and help manage any genetic factors that may increase their likelihood of developing the disease and provides an individualized risk assessment as well as personalized recommendations on when to start screening and how frequently.

Advances in detection and treatment coupled with increased awareness have led to a steady decline in the incidence and mortality rate of colorectal cancers in people over 50 worldwide. However, physicians are concerned by increasing rates of the disease among young adults (those under 50) over the last two decades. The disruption to healthcare systems across the world that occurred in 2020 has led physicians to fear that much of the progress made in fighting colorectal cancer in recent years could be lost.

Colorectal cancer often presents without symptoms, making regular screening particularly important if it is to be detected in its earliest stages when 90% of cases can be cured. Late symptoms of the disease include blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea), abdominal discomfort or pain, and unexplained weight loss. 

“My message to the community is this – when it comes to colorectal cancer, we are all at risk but it is easily prevented. Come to us and do your regular screening. Avoid smoking, watch you stools for the presence of blood, keep active, eat more fiber, and follow your doctor’s recommendation when it comes to screening. Getting a screening colonoscopy is a quick, safe, painless procedure that can save your life,” concludes Dr. Kheir.

In the UAE, physicians recommend that both men and women begin regular screening for colon cancer at the age of 40. People at higher risk should begin screening at a younger age. Anyone who develops symptoms should consult their doctor as soon as possible, no matter their age.

For more information on colorectal cancer screening or to book an appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call 800 222 33 visit or download the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi app.

About Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi:

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, is a multispecialty hospital on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s model of care, specifically designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the Abu Dhabi population.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has the following Institutes: Heart & Vascular, Neurological, Digestive Disease, Eye, Respiratory, Critical Care, Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Imaging, Quality & Patient Safety, and Clinical & Nursing. In all, more than 40 medical and surgical specialties are represented at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

The facilities at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi combine state-of-the-art amenities and world-class service standards. The hospital is a 394 (expandable to 490) bed facility, with five clinical floors, three diagnostic and treatment levels, and 13 floors of critical and acute inpatient units. It is a physician-led medical facility served by North American/European Board Certified (or equivalent) physicians. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides patients in the region direct access to the world’s best healthcare providers and Cleveland Clinic’s unique model of care, reducing their need to travel abroad for treatment.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – Al Ain began offering select medical services in December 2017. The facility is located on the Tawam Hospital Campus in Al Ain.

About Mubadala Health:

Mubadala Health is the integrated healthcare network of Mubadala Investment Company. Established 2021, Mubadala Health operates, manages, and develops a portfolio of healthcare assets including: Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre (ADTC), Amana Healthcare, Capital Health Screening Centre (CHSC), Healthpoint, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), and National Reference Laboratory (NRL). In addition, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is an integral part of Mubadala Health. With a vision to transform the regional healthcare landscape, Mubadala Health sets a new benchmark for the UAE and regional healthcare industry through its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class caregivers who strive to put patients first across its continuum of care. Innovation, research, and education are the foundational pillars of Mubadala Health, supporting the further development of a sustainable healthcare sector in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and the region.