The present and the future of breast cancer burden in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Med Oncol. 2008;25(4):387-93. doi: 10.1007/s12032-008-9051-5. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Background: Despite the low cancer incidence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the country must be ready to face the challenge of foreseeable increase in cancer burden attributed to growth and aging of population. This work was designed to study female breast cancer as a model to assess future cancer burden and the impact on healthcare resources.

Methods: Cancer statistics for the KSA were compared with that for the USA. The Joinpoint regression program was used to identify changes in secular trends, while the GLOBOCAN 2002 software projected future incidence and mortality.

Results: In the KSA, the age-standardized cancer rate (ASR) is 61 per 100,000 population, while the median age at diagnosis is 54 and 49 years for men and women, respectively. Fitting the ASR for breast cancer did not show any significant trend over a 10-year calendar period (16.2-18.2 per 100,000), a pattern that was similar to that for the USA in the prescreening mammography era. Considering the growth and aging of population and using conservative estimates for the annual percent change in incidence (increase) and mortality (decrease) by 2025, incidence and mortality cases are expected to increase by about 350% and 160%, respectively.

Conclusion: In developing countries, future cancer rates could demonstrate a considerable increase and enormous demands on healthcare resources. The present work may provide an impetus to study other prevalent cancer types particularly in developing countries.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • SEER Program
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology