By LULU MARK
CANCER is one of the major health concerns in the country which has caused deaths every year.
Port Moresby General Hospital head of cancer clinic Dr Peter Olali said that in a year, more than 1,000 people with cancer came through the clinic.
Some would get treated and others die.
Early detection and diagnosis of cancer are important in treating it and preventing death.
Some cancers can be treated in the country and the hospital does its best to provide all the possible care and treatment necessary.
Dr Olali said one of the cancers was leukemia – the cancer of the blood.
“Leukemia is classified into two main groups: Myelogenous leukemia and lymphocytic leukemia,” he said.
“The major types of leukemia are acute myelogenous leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.”
Around 30 patients with leukemia pass through the hospital’s cancer clinic every year.
Dr Olali said the survival rate depended on the sub-type of leukemia and the stage at which the patient was in.
Some common cancers in PNG are breast and mouth cancers.
The symptom is a small lump in the breast or a sore in the mouth that lasts for more than two weeks.
Others include the cancer of the stomach, lungs and leukemia.
One would not be able to know until one is seeking treatment for something else such as a fever, swollen gum and continuous bleeding.
“Most of the time, the cancer is already big and the only thing we can advise is: We can or cannot treat you.”
The blood in our body is made inside the bone marrow. From the cell cycle process, it has to follow all the steps precisely before it is released.
If something goes wrong, the entire production is jeopardised and the fault here is in the genetic material of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).
The cell’s DNA contains the instruction that tells the cell what to do from the rate to grow and the time to die.
Hence, when something happens and the DNA is disturbed, the normal production of blood cells are affected.
The causes depends on the genetic makeup and food we eat, exposure to chemicals, radiation, some viruses and other environmental factors.
There is no exact causes of leukemia, hence, we cannot say you cannot eat these kinds of food or do that.
“Many people have gone overseas and spent up to K400,000 for treatment but returned and died,” Dr Olali said. “For those who go overseas to get a bone-marrow transplant, which is very expensive for an average Papua New Guinean to afford, return to the country and spend K20,000 on medicines yearly to ensure the transplant is sustainable.
“All the different sub-types of leukemia have different specific treatment. When a patient is suspected with leukemia, different tests and investigations are conducted to identify which type of leukemia it is.”