Cancer Increase Cause for Great Concern

Cancer Increase Cause  for Great ConcernCancer Increase Cause  for Great Concern

T he ministry of health and medical education has been addressing concerns such as food insecurity, air pollution, unhealthy lifestyles, and other similar risk factors on a wide-scale under the Health Reform Plan launched in May.

Dr. Seyyed Hassan Hashemi, health minister, said priority has been given to these issues due to the worrisome increase in cancer rates in the country.

At a recent meeting of the National Cancer Committee, Hashemi pointed out that although the rates of cancer growth in Iran are five times less compared with Europe and several other countries, the “bitter truth is that the number of patients suffering from the disease is continuing to grow.” Iran now ranks high in various types of cancers.

 Measures Taken

Several effective measures have been taken to provide wider support to cancer patients. “For instance, the required medication is only distributed in specialized centers. Through the monitoring process, the usage and costs of expensive medicines is controlled. This will also aid impoverished families dealing with cancer patients.”

Noting that cancer is one of the ‘bitter realities of the modern industrial world” and that the disease itself may take several years before any symptoms appear, the official said “in the future the ministry plans to focus on prevention and slowing down the progression rates of cancer.”  

Among Iranians (males in particular) stomach cancer is the deadliest of all. The biggest problem is that the public do not heed cancer health guidelines provided by the ministry nor do they take health advice seriously. “People need to learn how to take better care of themselves and awareness should increase. Annual checkups are particularly effective in cancer prevention and early detection,” he stressed.

The industrial, agricultural and environmental sectors as well as the Supreme Council of Health and Food Security must all cooperate in tackling this deadly disease, the minister added.

 High Fatalities

Cancer is the second major reason of deaths in the country after road accidents.

It may be recalled that Head of Clinical Oncology Association Dr. Mohammad Reza Agha-Nasiri, at the 9th Annual Congress of Clinical Oncology held in Tehran last month had emphasized the country’s capabilities in prevention and early diagnoses of cancer. Fortunately, the latest cancer medicines are available and imports of required drugs have been increased. Patients also do not face any problem as insurance covers all the expenses, he said.

In 2009 there were 80,000 new cases of cancer and 35,000 deaths were registered in Iran, with the total number of cancer patients including new cases and those under care, now touching 500,000, he said.

Globally, 20 million people would be afflicted with cancer by 2020.

 Common Types

Cancers of the skin, stomach, bladder, prostate, and large intestine are common among men and breast, skin, stomach, and thyroid among women.

The number of digestive system cancers is also increasing due to unhealthy diet and adulterated food products.

Blood cancer is another big concern in the country especially among children. “Probably, the non-standard gasoline is one of the causes since it contains lead which stimulates bone marrow resulting in blood cancer. The role of a healthy diet should not be ignored, Agha-Nasiri said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ahmad Ameri, association secretary pointed out that cancer growth rate in Iran is higher than other regional countries and it will be the main challenge in the future.

In 2013, about $2,650 million was totally allocated for medicines, of which $398 million only was for cancer drugs. This amount excludes costly medicines imported and sold by the private sector, Ameri pointed out.