Clinical and Therapeutic Characteristics of Cancer Patients in the Southern Region of Saudi Arabia: A Cross-Sectional Study

ABSTRACT

Aims: Due to the continuous changes in modern lifestyle and the need to explore the effect of these changes on the risk of developing cancer, ongoing research on the epidemiology and characteristics of cancer patients is requested. This study explored the epidemiology of cancer, its characteristics, treatment patterns, and risk factors in the southern region of Saudi Arabia.

Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted using cancer patients’ medical records at Asir Central Hospital in the southern region of Saudi Arabia. Active patients’ records were extracted between January 2013 and December 2019.

Results: A total of 2038 patients were identified during the study period, with a mean age of 60.9 (SD: 19.0) years. The patients had survived with their cancer for a median duration of 4 years (IQR: 2-6). Around 4.6% of the patients required ICU admission with a median period of 9 days (IQR: 5-14.75). The death rate during the study period was 10.9%. Around 20.8% of the cases were metastatic, of which 77.8% were at stage four of metastasis, and 19.7% of the patients were receiving chemotherapy for their disease. The most common types of cancer were malignant neoplasms of digestive organs, comprising 40.8% of the sample. Older age (60 years and above) and using specific chronic disease medications were predictors associated with a higher risk of death due to cancer (p < 0.05). Smoking history, using specific chronic disease medications, and having previous surgery were predictors associated with a higher risk of ICU admission (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Breast, colon, and liver cancers were the most prevalent in the southern region of Saudi Arabia. Several modifiable cancer risk factors were identified. The results of this study should support decision-makers in the initiation of programs for key modifiable risk factors that enhance lifestyle changes and reduce cancer risks.