Dhaka, Bangladesh
High incidence of cancer causes concern

High incidence of cancer causes concern

Adolescents and young adults most vulnerable

Mazharul Islam Mitchel: An upturn in the already- prevalent various forms of cancer is emerging as a cause of serious concern in Bangladesh. Adolescents and adults cancer patients are increasing in the country due to ignorance about the different manifestations of the diseases besides lack of effective medicines and specialists. Most of the patients come to doctors when they have already reached their terminal stages when treatment becomes impossible or difficult, finds a study. National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital conducted a study on cancer and issues related to the mortal diseases. The study researchers impose methodology on 400 cancer patients of age group 15-39 who are getting treatments at NICRH. Researchers found that six most common cancer types they suffered were germ cell tumour and trophoblastic tumor (a form of cancer in uterus), lymphomas, osseous and chondromatous neoplasm (a form of bone cancer), soft-tissue sarcoma, leukemia and gastrointestinal-tract carcinoma. The lead researcher, Abdullah Al Mamun Khan, assistant professor of medical oncology at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, said majority of the adolescent and young adult cancer patients come to doctors when they were already in the late stages with multiple symptoms. "They ignored the symptoms that made the disease difficult to cure," he added. Medical Oncology Society of Bangladesh general secretary Rafiqul Islam said the number of cancer patients in the country was increasing day by day as some 1.5 lakh cancer-affected people die in the country every year. There were only 16 medical oncologists, most at NICRH and some at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, and 40 students were studying post-graduate courses on the subject. The study found that patients of age group 20-24 were 12.50 per cent, age group 25-29 were 14.25 per cent, age group 30-34 were 16.25 per cent and age group 35-39 were 25.50 per cent. The patients of 15-19 years of age suffered from osseous and chondromatous neoplasm (38 per cent), leukemia (27 per cent) and soft tissue sarcoma (20.59 per cent). Among the patients, 25.25 per cent were students and 50.50 per cent of the total belonged to low socioeconomic group and 64.50 per cent lived in rural areas. The study found that 39.50 per cent of the patients come to the doctors when they were already in the stage 4, the last stage of cancer when cure is almost impossible, while 33 per cent come to the doctors when they were already in stage 3, a stage when cure is difficult. The study found the patients delayed to come to doctors, and when they reached doctors, 44.25 per cent were experiencing swelling, 30.50 per cent with pain, 27.50 per cent with fever, 16.25 per cent with vomiting, 15 per cent with loss of appetite and 7.5 per cent with bleeding. Dhaka Medical College principal Khan Abul Kalam Azad urged the government to adopt good plans for cancer treatment as he said medical oncologists were the main resource for treating this non-communicable disease but the country lacked post-graduates of this area due to unavailability of adequate seats at the NICRH and at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, which conduct the post-graduation medical courses of the country.

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