Cancer: two thirds of cases diagnosed too late, and a culture of secrecy

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

At the end of this month there will be a major conference on cancer treatment in Tehran. One senior expert in the field, Dr Nematollah Rostami, has already pin pointed one of the main problems: late diagnosis. Dr Rostami says that up to two thirds of the patients found to be with cancer each year for two thirds of them (about 45,000 people) the diagnosis has come too late for treatment. This is something the conference wants to deal with.

Other reports show there is a culture of secrecy when it comes to cancer. In one survey of 142 cancer patients, over half of them did not know they were suffering from the disease, and some of them who did know had been not been informed by their doctors, but by someone else. Whether this is something that needs addressing will be open to debate. Some argue that patients are happier if they do not know they have this aggressive disease.

While treatment for cancer in Iran clearly needs improvement, it is ironic that outside the country, there are two Iranians who are making great advances in the treatment of the disease. Dr. Omid Farrokhzad of Harvard Medical School has produced a smart cancer drug that is capable of targeting cancer cells in animals. This could well mean that chemotherapy that attacks all the cells in the body will become something of the past. And Dr Hooshmand Sheshbaradaran in Sweden is also developing drugs that directly attack the cancer cells.

As in all countries, cancer provides Christians an opportunity to share the hope of the resurrection with all concerned, and when they are sure of the Holy Spirit’s leading, to see miraculous healings in the name of Jesus.

Pray for

• Dr Rostami and team to improve early diagnosis of cancer.
• Sensitivity over issue of disclosure.
• Christians to share and pray wisely.