The function room at one of Cairo's plush hotels overlooking the River Nile was brimming with energy.
This wasn’t a typical World Cancer Day event – simply highlighting the facts and challenges – but rather a chance for various stakeholders to come together and reinforce awareness, highlight significant treatment approaches and spread the word of hope and support.
World Cancer Day is celebrated globally each year on 4 February, and this year Egypt's involvement had a special edge.
The government's Kasr Al-Aini Center of Radiation Oncology and Nuclear Medicine (NEMROCK) collaborated with Egyptian sporting clubs, several NGOs and the private-sector company Novartis in a two-day event called "We Can, I Can".
For the first time, owners of Harley-Davison motorcycles paraded from Kasr Al-Aini Hospital to various clubs in Cairo to highlight the importance of the cause.
Optimism was the common thread at the event, with cancers survivors sharing stories of bravery and triumph, while medical experts pointed to advances in cancer treatment in Egypt in recent years.
Professor of Oncology Dr Emad Hamada explained some welcome developments, including advanced targeted therapy for breast cancer, and progress in treating chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), transforming it into a chronic but non-fatal disease.
Dr Mohsen Mokhtar, Professor of Oncology at NEMROCK, highlighted the need for psychological support for patients, as well as the number treated in Kasr Al-Aini free of charge by the government.
“Patients require financial and emotional support, and an event such as this is a clear demonstration that their needs are best met when public and private entities join forces to offer help and correct misconceptions associated with this disease," said Mokhtar.
"Over 42,000 patients visit our outpatient clinics each year, and we provide chemotherapy treatment to 15,000 patients. Our radiotherapy services extend to the treatment of patients referred to us by the Health Insurance Organization and involve 520,000 radiotherapy session each year.
"For almost 50 years and until today, the Kasr Al-Aini Oncology Center (NEMROCK) was Egypt’s first refuge for cancer patients nationwide," he said.
In addition to Harley–Davidson, the Egyptian National Olympic committee participated in the event, stressing their mandate to raise awareness of the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle. The committee said the spirit of athleticism drives their commitment to supporting such critical community issues.
Among the NGOs taking part was Power of CML. Established in 2014, it is the first organization in Egypt to focus on chronic myeloid leukemia
Another NGO present on the day was the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt (BCFE), whose president, Dr Mohamed Shaalan, seized the opportunity to highlight the importance of cancer awareness.
“An $18 billion increase in funding is needed to support international efforts to fight cancer across the globe and save the lives of up to three million people or more by 2030, if invested in prevention, early detection and improved care for cancer patients," he said.
"There is a pressing need for the tripling of taxes on tobacco to help discourage smoking, which is a key factor in the development of several types of cancer," he said.
There are 166 cancer cases in Egypt for every 100,000 people, according to the National Cancer Registry Program (NCRP), which makes the rate of documented cancer diagnosis in the country one of the lowest internationally.
Liver cancer is the most common form of the disease, at 23.8 percent of all cases, followed by breast cancer at 15.4 percent, and bladder cancer at 6.9 percent.