Cancer in Papua New Guinea
Cancer is a killer in Papua New Guinea. According to the medical symposium in Goroka has heard that the country’s cancer burden has
reached unacceptable levels and needs addressing at the primary level and not only at the secondary and tertiary levels.
“By the time we refer a patient to the tertiary level most of the time it is only for palliative treatment. They usually will not survive, “says CEO of Kimbe
General Hospital Dr Victor Golpak.
“As surgeons we are approached by patients referred to us for surgery to remove an abnormal growth, lump or ulcer. They may present with lesions that are easily accessible anatomically or lesions that may be anatomically concealed.
“Our cancer mortality rates are not accurate because the majority of our cancer patients are discharged to
die at home.”
Furthermore, the majority of these patients present at the point of definitive treatment too late, for various reasons such as
lack of access to a health institution, failure of a primary health worker to recognize the disease, failure of a hospital worker to recognize the disease, failure of the system to allow prompt referral to an appropriate specialist, failure of the system to provide necessary resources to
properly investigate and treat affected patients, failure of the patient to recognize his or her own problem, especially
if there is no pain.
Dr Golpak said primary health includes awareness and risk communication to all levels of the community. It also includes properly managed programs
like active screening for risk factors and detection of early lesions, and also prevention programs as in immunization against causative agents.
“In PNG we do not have a formal cancer screening service to pick up early lesions of common cancers that are treatable if detected early,”
He presented his paper on cancer an objective for professionals to embark on primary intervention and early detection for the
purpose of prevention and curative treatment.
Facts about Cancer in Papua New Guinea
- about 10 people die every year
- no cancer treatment facilities
- lack of awarenesss and early treatment