A Visit to the Cancer Registry of Saudi Arabia

In April, two INCTR consultants, Dr Nadia Dimitrova and Dr Ariana Znaor, visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to review cancer registration procedures and data quality in the national cancer registry, chaired by Dr Shouki Bazabashi. Drs Dimitrova and Znaor were accompanied by Dr Al-Eid, who directs the national registry, on a tour of 17 hospitals from both private and public health sectors and regional cancer registries in 7 of 13 Saudi Arabian regions. The visit included meetings and interviews with Directors of the hospitals, clinicians and cancer registrars in order to understand the structure of the registry and to review case finding approaches. The incidence of cancer in Saudi Arabia is the lowest of all the Gulf States, and we were particularly interested, therefore, in the methods of finding cancer cases since it is important to know whether this low incidence results from some cases remaining undetected, or whether the incidence of cancer is genuinely low in Saudi Arabia. The consultants were warmly welcomed in all parts of the Kingdom, and were greatly impressed by the dedication of cancer registrars and the collaborative spirit of the clinicians. Cancer control in Saudi Arabia will gain even more importance with the recent governmental approval to establish a National Center for Disease Prevention and Control, for the national registry, or regional elements of it, will be able to measure the outcome of prevention activities that are implemented at regional or national levels and also monitor survival rates,and hopefully, mortality rates, which are not yet being reported. These statistics will provide a measure of the success of measures that are implemented - mortality being a composite figure depending upon both incidence, the stage at presentation and care, while survival provides a good overall measure of the performance of the health care system. We hope, too, that it may be possible for INCTR to continue to work with the SCR in the future. Congratulations to Dr Al-Eid and DrBazarbashi for their excellent leadership of this important resource, and to the numerous directors, registrars other staff of regional registries for their dedication to the generation of high quality data.

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