Health is consistently regarded as a core necessity for sustainable human development and one of the major challenges for sustainable development in the 21st century.2 According to the results of the Global Burden of Disease Study (2010) the burden of non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases, diabetes) in the Arab world has increased dramatically. Local data confirms this finding and indicates longitudinal increases in non-communicable diseases including breast cancer and diabetes, with projections reflecting even larger increases in this burden and its associated costs in the coming years. These diseases are highly preventable and prognosis is improved with early detection. Importantly, Early detection reduces mortality:
- The 5-year survival rates for breast cancer decline from 100% if detected and treated during stage I or stage II of the disease to 22% if detected and treated at stage IV. Similarly, for colorectal cancer, five-year survival rates decrease from 90% to 10% as detection moves from early to late stage.
- Over the past 40 years, we have seen an increase in breast cancer survival. This has been attributed to improvements in both screening and treatment3
- Cardiovascular diseases are the number 1 cause of death globally and are detectable and preventable in people with increased risk4
- Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. (4th worldwide). If everyone aged 50 years or older had regular screening test for colorectal cancer, at least 60% of deaths from this cancer could be avoided5
Early detection reduces screening and other downstream costs:
- Multiple clinical studies conducted have confirmed that the costs of breast cancer increased with increased stage of the disease at detection6
- Early diagnosis of diabetes can be accomplished through relatively inexpensive blood testing.
- Early diagnosis of diabetes can lead to identification of other cost saving interventions such as the screening and treatment of retinopathy, blood lipid control and screening for early signs of diabetes-related kidney disease.
- When colorectal cancer is detected at an early stage, expensive therapies are not needed to effectively treat the disease.
Early detection aids in disease maintenance and prevention:
- Untreated diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves as well as leading to premature mortality. Over the past 20 years, preventive care for adults with diagnosed diabetes has effectively reduced the rates of five major complications: heart attack, stroke, amputations of the legs and feet, end-stage renal disease and deaths due to hyperglycemic crisis7
- The key to preventing cardiovascular disease (a.k.a. coronary artery disease) is managing risk through regular screening8