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
“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.
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