CANCER IN SAUDI ARABIA
HIS STUDY WAS UNDERTAKEN TO DETERMINE
T the extent of cancer in Saudi Arabia for
the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco).
This huge company, in which Saudi Arabs
and Americans have been working together
in the production of oil since 1936, provides
medical care for its 15,000 Saudi employees
and their 90,000 dependents. In addition, the
Aramco Hospitals have offered emergency
treatment to the general public and they have
generously included cancer patients in this
category. Since the Aramco Hospital at Dhah-
ran is the only one in Saudi Arabia with fa-
cilities to care for patients with cancer, the
following study represents a good spectrum of
cancer in Saudi Arabia. Figure 1 shows the
geographical location of Saudi Arabia and the
From the Dhahran Health Center, Arabian Ameri-
can Oil Company, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Received for publication April 4, 1963.
Aramco facilities, which are located in the
Eastern Province on the ancient shores of the
Persian Gulf. The terrain is primarily desert
and barren except for oases, which are areas
sometimes hundreds o f square miles in size
where water comes to the surface and cultiva-
tion is carried out. Most of the people studied
in this survey come from m e a g e r environments
and by Western standards are on a low socio-
economic level. Their diet is simple, primarily
rice, dates, mutton, camel, fish, and fruit. It
does not indude any of the specific dietary
agents indicated elsewhere,l as possible e t b
logical agents in cancer. As Muslims, the men
are all circumcised. There is no drinking and
very little smoking throughout the population
under study. Polygamy, in that a man may
take as many as 4 wives, is quite common. Salt
packing, of the vagina after delivery is prac-
ticed. The population may be divided into 2
FIG. 1. Saudi Arabia. The country has an area of 597,000 sq. miles and a population of approximately 3 , 0 0 0 , ~ .
The boxed area indicates the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) Health Center at Dhahran.
4. The incidence of breast and cervical can- people become better educated and their
cer is extremely low. This is probably due to
the marked resistance on the part o f the Saudi
women to examination and to the short life
There is an obvious steady increase in the
incidence of cancer in Saudi Arabia, As the
health improves, lengthening the life span,
there is no doubt that cancer will become an
ever increasing problem. At this time, except
for the heavy incidence of hemic and lym-
phatic tumors, the cancer spectrum is essen-
tially what would be expected.
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