Meeting gets closer look at cancer

National, Normal

SURGEONS, doctors, health officials and four international experts on cancer have met to discuss ways of minimising the spread of the disease.
The 60 specialists took part in a three-day cancer epidemiology and registration workshop last week which focused on understanding the causes and spread of cancer in PNG.
“We have discovered that there has been increasing incidences of cancer in Papua New Guinea and that the most common is oral cancer or cancer of the mouth,” the head of public health at UPNG School of Medicine and Health Science Prof Paul Crouch-Chivers said.
Prof Crouch-Chivers said many patients were turning up too late for treatment for oral cancer.
The ones who come early are lucky to undergo lifesaving operations.
Discussions from workshop revealed that oral cancer was caught through chewing of betelnut with lime and mustard and that it might have arisen due to extensive trade in the betelnut.
Other common cancers apart from mouth cancer highlighted by Prof Chivers were skin, breast and cervical cancer which was commonly experienced by female population.
“Most of these are caused by the types of lifestyles we have,” he added saying in children, Burkitts Lymphoma (swelling in mouths or lymphoma) and leukemia were also very common.
Despite all these, treatment and diagnostic had been very poor and needed immediate improvement.
The workshop also highlighted problems encountered in the efficient and timely treatment of cancer in PNG and suggested ways to improve this.
“The workshop is to help us examine the situation on cancer in PNG and what we can do to improve understanding and management of cancer,” Prof Chivers said.
He said the group was more focused on four specific areas which include : cancer referrals, diagnostic system, research and policy issues.
The group highlighted lack of drugs and consumables, manpower, transport, technical expert and equipment as some of the problems and have drawn suggestions on how to improve them.
Suggestions from the workshop which ended last week will be used to develop proper strategies to guide them in addressing the problem.