Cancer on the rise in PNG

Main Stories, National

The National, Friday 03rd August 2012

A CANCER control workshop in Port Moresby heard that non-communicable diseases like cancer are on the rise and have become a significant health problem.
The workshop was told mouth, cervical, breast, liver and children’s cancers were more common in the country today than ever before.
It was revealed that children suffered from cancer, although not as commonly as in adults. Childhood cancers overall constitute a small burden of cancer in Papua New Guinea.
Participants and speakers from provincial hospitals said there were 10,000-15,000 cases per year but somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 cases were presented to a health facility annually and the numbers were steadily increasing. 
Angau Memorial General Hospital chief executive officer Dr Polapoi Chalau said diagnostic treatment and palliative care services were limited and poorly resourced and manpower needs were insufficient.
“A significant proportion of our population continue to lead lifestyles that exposes them to risks of cancer, which means that we must concentrate a significant effort on public health education programmes for cancer prevention.” 
Stakeholders were told it was now a need to focus the attention on achievable and less costly plans.
Many emphasised that cancer treatment was very expensive and many cancer patients were surgically treated based on clinical diagnosis.
Radio-oncologist Dr John Niblett said these diagnostic pathological tests were done either in the Port Moresby and Lae laboratories.
“In most instances, results were not reaching the provinces on time due to long delays in getting the specimens in and results out of these centres and power supply problems,” Niblett said.
He said most cancer patients were now treated by surgical curative and chemotherapy palliative care.
He said those patients requiring radiotherapy treatment were given options of going overseas at their own expenses, while the majority who could not afford suffered and died in their villages.
All stakeholders were told to influence planning and implementation of cancer control strategies during the discussion and recommendation sessions, plot where the gaps were in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, knowledge and training programmes and how they should be addressed.