SAUDI ARABIA – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has joined the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) ranks in a significant stride towards global collaboration in cancer research and prevention.

The announcement was made during the 66th session of the agency’s Governing Council, held in Lyon, France.

Saudi Health Council Secretary General Dr. Nahar Al-Azemi expressed pride in Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the IARC, citing it as a testament to its commitment to disease prevention and control.

He emphasized the Kingdom’s pioneering efforts in combating cancer through rigorous scientific methodologies, underlining the government’s multifaceted approach towards addressing the disease.

The move is particularly poignant given the significant cancer burden faced by Saudi Arabia.

According to the most recent national cancer registry incidence report by the National Cancer Center of the Saudi Health Council, the country recorded an estimated 28,100 new cases of cancer and approximately 13,400 cancer-related deaths in 2022.

Among the most prevalent cancer types were breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and thyroid cancer.

Recognizing the urgency of cancer screening, prevention, quality care, and research, Saudi Arabia has prioritized cancer control within its broader healthcare agenda, as outlined in Saudi Vision 2030.

The nation’s participation as a new IARC member opens avenues for comprehensive collaboration programs to bolster cancer research capacity and enhance cancer control strategies.

Priority areas of collaboration between Saudi Arabia and IARC include cancer registration, early detection and screening, research, capacity-building, and the evaluation of cancer control programs.

 Notably, interventions targeting modifiable risk factors such as obesity, smoking, social habits, and environmental exposures align with the government’s agenda to combat noncommunicable diseases and will be central to the collaborative efforts with IARC.

Dr. Elisabete Weiderpass, Director of IARC, expressed enthusiasm about Saudi Arabia’s inclusion, highlighting it as the agency’s 28th Participating State.

She emphasized the importance of international collaboration and evidence-based research in reducing the global cancer burden.

Dr. Weiderpass underscored the potential for partnerships and collaborative research programs to deepen understanding and improve cancer control strategies.

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