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Cancer Unit



This unit was established in 2004 with the following objectives:

1. To strengthen research capacity among college faculty and allied specialties in the field of research in general and Research on cancer and environment in particular.

2. To carry out epidemiological research on cancer in Basrah in order to quantify the extent of cancer occurrence and mortality.

3. To encourage the spirit of team work in research and care delivery within the context of cancer.

4. To carry out and participate in scientific activities concerned with cancer and environment pollution


 The unit is supervised by a scientific committee as follows:

1. Dr. Omran S. Habib (PhD) . Professor of epidemiology and health care, Cancer epidemiology and prevention

2. Dr. Mazin H. Al-Hawaz. Professor of surgery and Head of Department of Surgery

3. Dr. Lamia M Al-Naama. Professor of clinical biochemistry and Head of Department of Biochemistry

4. Dr. Saad S. Hamadi. Professor of internal medicine and assistant Dean for Scientific Affairs

5. Dr. Jasim MA Al-Diab. Assistant professor of histopathology

6. Dr. Niran J Al-Salhi, Assistant professor of biology, College of Science , University of Basrah

7. 6. Dr. Dhamiaa Q. Sukkar, Assistant professor of biology, College of Science , University of Basrah



 The unit collaborates with the following bodies:

1. Basrah Cancer Research Group (BCRG)

2. Cancer Registration Section (CRS), Department of pathology and forensic medicine, College of Medicine, University of Basrah

3. The Oncology Centre (OC), Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital, Basrah

4. Cancer Control Centre (CCC), General Directorate of Health, Basrah

5. Oncology Ward, Basrah Maternity and Children Hospital, Basrah

6. Centre for early detection of breast cancer

7. Other Major hospitals in Basrah City

 Important development

 The unit is now an active partner in the activities concerned with cancer and environment at Basrah governorate level and at national level. A number of members of the scientific committee of the unit are members of the following


1. Professor Omran S. Habib is a member of the Cancer Board in Iraq which headed by his Excellency the Minister of Health.

2. Both Professor Omran S. Habib and Doctor Jasim MA. Al-Diab are members of the advisory committee on cancer and environment which is headed by The Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Environment

3. Professor Omran S. Habib and Dr. Jasim MA Al-Diab are members of the advisory committee on cancer in Basrah which headed by the Director General of health services in Basrah.

Summary of achievements during 2005-2008

The following achievements are the fruits of the collaborative work of all partners listed above. The lead being to the BCRG but the efforts of all others are inevitable to the success of the joint work

1. An updated version of data on all newly diagnosed and registered cases of cancer in Basrah during 2005 was completed. A total of 1604 cases were compiled and stored for future work. A report is published and can be found on the website of College of Medicine, University of Basrah (

2. A new report on cancer registration in Basrah covering both 2005 and 2006 with details on 1604 cases registered in 2005 and 1470 cases registered in 2006 is completed and sent for publication.

3. Work is going on to compile data on all newly diagnosed cancer cases in Basrah. For the years 2007-2008.The sources for the data are:

– Cancer Control Centre in Southern Iraq (Basrah Office), which registers notified cancer cases using detailed form.

– Cancer Registration Section at the Department of Pathology andForensi

Medicine, which compiles data on most of solid tumours.

– The oncology Centre in Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital which is the main centre for chemotherapy in Southern Iraq.

– The Oncology Ward in Basrah Maternity and Child Hospital, which provides chemotherapy for cases of childhood cancers.

– Department of Orthopaedics at Basrah General Hospital.

– Department of Faciomaxillary Surgery at Basrah General Hospital.

– Centre for early detection of breast cancer

– Haematology laboratory of Dr Zuhair Al-Barazanchi

– Two other minor sources; Al Mawani Hospital and Neurosurgery Department

4. Seven scientific papers were published

4.1. Khalaf AA. Cancer trends of cancer after Gulf War. Clinical Medicine in Tomorrow 2005; 17: 3-11.

4.2. Habib OS. Environment and health in Southern Iraq: Facts and future prospects. Marina Mesopotamica 2005; 20: 7-19.

4.3. Al-Hassan JK. Stage at diagnosis and survival rate of breast cancer and lymphoma: A follow up study. Basrah Journal of Surgery 2006; 12: 70-75.

4.4. Essa SS, Habib OS, Al-Diab JMA, Al-Imara KAS, Ajeel NAH.

Cancer mortality in Basrah. The Medical Journal of Basrah University 2007, 25:55-60.

4.5. Habib OS, Essa SS, Khalaf SA, Zuaiter HT. Cancer mortality in southern Iraq. Marsh Bulletin 2007, 2:110-118.

4.6. Habib OS, Jawad K Al-Ali, Mohammed K Al-Wiswasi, Narjis AH Ajeel, Osama G Al-Asady, Asaad AA Khalaf, Abbas ZM Al-Mayah. Cancer registration in Basrah: preliminary results. Asian Pacific Journal for Cancer Prevention 2007; 8: 187-190.

47. Zuaiter HT, Habib OS. Pattern of cancer mortality in Thi Qar governorate. Thi Qar Medical Journal 2007; 1 (1): 13-22.

5. Five other research works were completed:

5.1. Abdul-Samad AA, L, Al-Kamil EAS. Breast cancer and selected life style variables: Cases-control study 2006.

5.2. Obaid HL, Habib OS, Hassan GG. Childhood cancer (leaukaemias and lymphomas) in Basrah- A case-control study 2006.

 5.3. Essa SS, Habib OS. A study on cancer mortality in Basrah 2006.

5.4. Khalaf SA, Habib OS. Cancer in Missan: Pattern and demographic characteristics 2006.

5.5. Time trend and spatial distribution of cancer mortality in Thi Qar governorate

The researchers: Dr Hazim T Zuaiter and Professor Omran S Habib

6. Two research works are going on:

6.1. The extent of cancer in Basrah: A household survey by BCRG

6.2. Heavy metals and cancer in Southern Iraq: A case-control study (PhD project)

The researchers: Dr Laith A. Al-Rudainy, Professor Narjis AH Ajeel and Professor Hamid Al-Saad

7. A report (The burden of cancer in Basrah: The state of the art- First report) was released by the team and available now on internet website:

8. Other scientific papers under preparation

8.1. AL-Ali JK, Habib OS, Hasan GG, AL-Elwi WM, Toma GB, Sayhood AAM, Al-Faddagh ZA. Malignant diseases in Basrah: Evidence of increased risk. (Under preparation)

8.2. Al-Diab JMA. Childhood cancer in Basrah: Epidemiological and pathological profile. (Under preparation)

8.3. Breast cancer 2005-2008: Critical analysis of newly diagnosed cases in Basrah

8.4. Cancer in Basrah: An ecological expression of newly diagnosed cases during 2005-2008.

9. Efforts in Basrah are progressing towards the establishment of population-based cancer registry. In addition to all achievements listed above, a significant development is the initiation of a hospital based cancer registry at Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital.

10. A book on cancer in Southern Iraq was published in Arabic in 2008. The second edition of revised contents and scope is under preparation.


Future plans

 Although, a lot was done during the last 4 years, the future is challenging at least in two aspects:

1. The need to consolidate the population cancer registry so that it becomes sustained, comprehensive and responsive to the needs of planners, care providers and researchers.

2. The need to improve preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic measures for cancer.

Specifically we have to ensure:

1. The continuation and further improvement of cancer registration at four levels

a. Hospital registry: strengthen hospital based registries in the main hospitals in Basrah

b. Histopathological Registry (Cancer Registration Section) at the Department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Basrah. This registry compiles data on solid tumours diagnosed by histopathological or cytological methods.

c. The main Cancer Registry at the Centre of Cancer Control in Southern Iraq located at the Directorate General of Health Services in Basrah. This is the official cancer registry and is the ultimate target for comprehensive population based cancer registration

d. The Cancer Research Unit at the College of Medicine which helps in epidemiological analysis of data on cancer and supervise research work on cancer and related areas

2. Further and continuing scientific, technical and financial support to the two main therapeutic centres in Basrah (The Oncology Centre at Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital and the Oncology Ward at Basrah Maternity and Child Hospital) to enable them achieve high quality care and registration.

3. Efforts are needed to examine the current situation of cancer within a time span extending for at least 20 years. We need, therefore to obtain whatever available data on cancer incidence and mortality in Basrah and Southern Iraq during the last 20 years. We have already started this work but we need high commitment of may partners in addition to the team members.

4. A complementary household survey is mandatory once the security situation improves. This has already started but its completion is a serious challenge.

5. A scientific conference on cancer in Southern Iraq is highly needed and we need to start exploring the feasibility of organizing such a conference in Basrah next spring. We need to discuss the idea of the conference with the University of Basrah, Health Authority in Basrah, other national and local partners interested in the subject and International Organizations for support both technical and financial.


Concluding remarks


These achievements were not the work of Cancer Research Unit but the work of an informal teamwork led by senior researchers in Basrah including the director of the CRU.

The work is on its first but confident steps. A great success is expected as long as the work is free from selfishness.

It is very much easier to talk and criticize but work is much better than talking and criticizing. We prefer to work first. Any one who respects this view is welcome to join the efforts on CANCER AND ENVIRONMENT.