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Cancer incidence and mortality estimates in Arab countries in 2018: A GLOBOCAN data analysis.

BACKGROUND: Arab countries are projecting increase in cancer incidence and mortality, however, there are limited studies that compare the epidemiology of cancer in Arab countries compared to other parts of the world.

METHODS: We used the 2018 Global Cancer Observatory data to compare the age-standardized incidence and mortality estimates in Arab-speaking countries to the rest of the world.

RESULTS: Rates for incidence and mortality for all cancers in Arab countries were lower than the world's rates but the incidence rates of non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphoma, bladder, breast, and liver cancers were higher. Arab countries generally had higher mortality-to-incidence ratio than the world's ratio. Incidence rates, even in age-specific groups, varied between sub-regions of Arab countries (the Levant, Arabian Gulf and Arab African sub-regions), and Iraq and Egypt, suggesting some common and unique environmental factors and possible ethnic or genetic heritages.

CONCLUSIONS: There are essential scopes for improvements in Arab countries including better treatments to reduce the high mortality-to-incidence ratio, and supporting vaccination programs and anti-viral treatments that would prevent the prevalent viral infection-related cancers. The high incidence of several cancers in younger Arabs suggests genetic factors and underlines the importance of genetic epidemiology studies.

IMPACT: This study is an essential reference to evaluate and monitor the progress of national cancer initiatives in Arab countries for surveillance and prevention programs and improving clinical management. The study also provides a comprehensive snapshot of cancers in a unique region that could shed light on the interplay of environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors.

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