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Desperate need for 'cancer plan'.


Jacqueline Agathocleous

ONE IN four Europeans will suffer from cancer by the end of 2010, with the figure increasing to one in three by the year 2020. One in four of those will lose their battle with the disease.

The data was submitted by former MEP and member the Cyprus Anti-cancer Association Adamos Adamou, during yesterday's House Health Committee.

Adamou was part of the team that prepared Cyprus' National Strategy for cancer, which was drawn up in 2004 and after a number of changes approved by the Cabinet and Parliament. He was also among the MEPs who sought its approval by the EU.

"This is a matter I have worked extensively on," said Adamou. "It is a fact that cancer is turning into an epidemic. Cancer now kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. In one EU state, it has actually surpassed heart diseases to become the primary cause of death."

For the Strategy to be implemented, the Cabinet now needs to appoint a special committee to deal with the problems and issues faced by cancer patients in Cyprus.

"We have a problem in Cyprus," Adamou explained. "Even though the Bank of Cyprus Oncology centre is excellent at what it does, it is not enough to cover the entire island's needs. We are urgently in need for the Oncology unit in Nicosia and radiotherapy unit in Limassol to be up and running as soon as possible."

By operating the unit in Limassol General Hospital, he added, this would also contribute to alleviating the Nicosia unit's excessive workload, which has also been underlined as one of the main problems in efforts to provide satisfactory care to patients. Currently, Nicosia General Hospital's radiotherapy unit cares for the entire island's patients; the Limassol one will also cater for Paphos.

"A study has shown that Nicosia's radiotherapy unit's workload will reduce by 30 per cent once the Limassol one is up and running," Adamou pointed out.

He said there were currently around 200 different types of cancer, while there is a four per cent increase on the number of cases every year. In Cyprus, it was mentioned that there were more than 2,000 sufferers, though these figures were doubted by Adamou and MPs, who said there wasn't a satisfactory national archive for the disease to back this up. Adamou feels there are vastly more cases.

Committee Chairman Costas Constantinou of DISY said: "In a few years, one in three Cypriots could suffer from cancer, of who one i`n four will die. We need to take action or else we will be faced with some serious problems in years to come."

DIKO MP Stelios Ierodiakonou said European statistics showed that cancer was the second main cause of death in the EU. "In Cyprus, however, it appears there is no sufficient data," he said.

Ierodiakonou added that even though there has been some progress in recent years, the island is still in desperate need of a strategic plan to deal.

"For us, the main issue is to warn the public of the importance of precautionary checks," he said. "It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that if the disease is spotted early on, it will be easier to treat, with less chances of fatality."

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Apr 16, 2010
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