New treatment options offer hope for Saudi ovarian cancer patients

Group of specialists are seen speaking to the media on the sidelines of a conference in Jeddah, titled “The Current Reality and Future Solutions for Ovarian Cancer". (Photo courtesy: supplied)
Updated 23 October 2017
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New treatment options offer hope for Saudi ovarian cancer patients

JEDDAH: Saudi women are falling victims to ovarian cancer due to late detection of the disease, a medical conference warned in Jeddah on Sunday.
Dr. Shadi Al-Khayyat, an oncology consultant at King Abdul Aziz University Hospital in Jeddah, said that there are new treatment options for ovarian cancer, which represents 4 percent of all cancer cases among women globally. 
Dr. Al-Khayyat was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a conference in Jeddah, titled “The Current Reality and Future Solutions for Ovarian Cancer.”
The event, organized by the Saudi Oncology Society (SOS) and AstraZeneca, attracted several medical experts.
Al-Khayyat said that therapeutic options for ovarian cancer have not seen any significant development for many years; it was mostly confined to surgery, which was considered as a first step in the treatment pathway followed by other treatments, such as chemotherapy, which has led ovarian cancer patients to face difficult choices. This was until a new class of medications, called PARP inhibitors, were developed, led by AstraZeneca, which has shown significant improvement in delaying disease progression compared to older therapies. 
This new class of medications is most effective in ovarian cancer patients who have a mutation in the BRCA gene, and is administered orally. It delays the need for further chemotherapy, and provides a better chance in delaying disease progression, which allows patients to carry on with their daily activities and strengthens them in their fight against the disease.
Trad Al-Khelaiwi, oncology business unit director and head of governmental affairs at AstraZeneca, stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to raise awareness on ovarian cancer among all segments of Saudi society, revealing that ovarian cancer mortality in the Kingdom in the early stages of the disease is only 19 percent compared to 81 percent for advanced stages. Unfortunately, only 36 percent of women are diagnosed at an early stage, while the majority are diagnosed at an advanced stage.

Dr. Faisal Al-Safi, section head and consultant in gynecologic oncology, department of oncology at the King Abdul Aziz Medical City/National Guard Health Affairs, said that ovarian cancer therapy has been improving due to the development of scientific research particularly during the last five years, which led to important strides offering more promising solutions for the disease, which causes an annual mortality of around 150,000 women globally.
He emphasized the importance of undergoing breast cancer BRCA gene testing for all ovarian cancer patients to identify who will most benefit from the new available treatment options. 
Dr. Meteb Al-Fohaidi, president of the Saudi Oncology Society, said that the high number of deaths among ovarian cancer patients is related to several factors, including the difficulty of its identification before reaching advanced stages due to the nature of cancer cell proliferation.
Previous studies revealed that 13 percent of doctors in Saudi Arabia are unaware of the latest recommendations of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and the Society of Gynecological Oncology on the importance of BRCA testing when needed.
Al-Fohaidi stressed on the importance of raising public health awareness, saying that there is a relation between ovarian cancer and breast cancer, as BRCA mutations are responsible for 5-10 percent of all breast cancer cases, which suggests the importance of conducting a thorough family history for breast cancer patients. 


Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki speaks during a press conference in Riyadh. (AN photo by Bashir Saleh)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

  • The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.
  • Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels.

JEDDAH: Saudi-led coalition officials on Tuesday displayed weapons and explosives supplied by Iran to Houthi militias in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. 

The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.

Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels. The weapons were captured on the battlefield in Hodeidah and displayed at a military base in the UAE. 

“Unsurprisingly, there are advanced military components in the Houthi militias’ hands,” said Talal Al-Teneiji, an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry.

“We took time to inspect and disassemble these to figure out the source ... and we can say that these elements are military-grade materials imported from Iran to the Houthi militias.”

As the week-long offensive in Hodeidah intensified on Tuesday, coalition forces consolidated their grip on the city’s airport and there was new fighting on the main coast road leading to the city center, with Apache helicopters providing air support to the coalition. 

“We can hear the sounds of artillery, mortars and sporadic machinegun fire. The Houthis have been using tanks,” one civilian on the coastal strip said. 

“Water has been cut off to many of the areas near the corniche area because the Houthis have dug trenches and closed water pipes.”

At the airport, which the coalition has controlled since Saturday, their forces stormed the main compound and took full command.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “We are waiting for the Houthis to realize the sort of military and psychological blow that they got with the airport ... we are giving them time to decide if they want to save the city ... and pull out.”

Oubai Shahbandar, a strategic communications adviser, told Arab News that “without the sea and airport of Hodeidah, the Houthi militia has effectively lost the war.”

They should agree to UN-hosted peace talks and not prolong the fighting. “The tide in this conflict has clearly turned in favor of the Arab coalition and the welfare of the Yemeni people ought to be paramount,” he said.