World Bulletin/News Desk
Each year, nearly 175,000 new people are diagnosed with cancer in Turkey, the Health Ministry has reported in a written statement released on Sunday in the lead-up to World Cancer Day.
World Cancer Day takes place today and is held to bring attention to the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer diseases across the world. What is situation in Turkey regarding cancer, then?
The Health Ministry statement also stated that cancer is more prevalent among men. Two-thirds of the cancer cases in Turkey are seen in men, according to the ministry. The statement also said rates of cancer range from region to region, adding that the main reasons behind the disease are obesity and smoking.
The president of the Turkish Association for Cancer Research and Control (TKASK) Professor Tezer Kutluk told Today's Zaman that cancer rates are rising each year in Turkey, as is the case throughout the world. Professor Kutluk, a member of the board of the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), also said that most prevalent among Turkish men are cancers of the lung, stomach, urinary bladder, prostate and colon, while for women they are breast, colon, stomach, uterus and lung cancers.
World Cancer Day targets the public through a global media campaign and encourages policymakers to consider dealing with cancer as a political priority.
Speaking on what has been done for the prevention of cancer in Turkey, Professor Kutluk said important steps have been taken in terms of prevention of tobacco usage, considered one of the top contributors to the cancer epidemic. Kutluk stated appreciation for the government's efforts over recent years to prevent the use of tobacco and said that by doing so, Turkey is taking a step not only against cancer but a number of other tobacco-related diseases, as well.
In a landmark move in 2009, Turkey banned smoking in indoor sections of cafes, bars, restaurants and the like with an amendment made to Law No. 4207, concerning the harmful effects and prevention of tobacco usage. With another amendment to the law in the early days of 2013, the use of water pipes (nargile in Turkish) was also prohibited.
Drawing attention to obesity as another primary risk factor for cancer, Kutluk said new campaigns are being developed to encourage the public to partake in physical activities to fight against obesity. “The number of campaigns encouraging more active lives should be increased and, with a number of initiatives, the public should be educated as to the negative effects of overeating,” Kutluk suggested.
Highlighting the importance of early diagnosis, primarily for some types of cancer such as those of the colon, breast, cervix and prostate, Kutluk said people over 50 should undergo cancer screening for colon cancer, men over 50 for prostate cancer and women over 40 for breast and cervical cancer.
Dr. Mustafa Yaylacı, an oncologist at Emsey Hospital in İstanbul, told Today's Zaman that cancer treatment in Turkey is being carried out in parallel with the methods used in developed countries. “All of the cancer-related institutions and organizations in Turkey are doing their jobs properly, but Turkey should give additional importance to developing new medical treatments for cancer. A budget should be allocated for scientific research to discover new ways to treat cancer here in Turkey. Turkey has so far used treatment methods developed by scientists in other countries; it needs its own scientists to research cancer,” Yaylacı noted.
Addressing the country's efforts to make the early diagnosis of cancer more common, Dr. Yaylacı said that Cancer Early Diagnosis Screening and Training (KETEM) centers have been set up across the country in recent years to detect cancer before it has spread. “Furthermore, hospitals have the necessary equipment and technologies to be able to detect the disease in its early stages. Still, new initiatives should be launched by the Health Ministry to raise public awareness on the positive effects of early diagnosis in cancer treatment,” Yaylacı said.
A report prepared by the parliamentary Cancer Research Commission stated that around 200 people die from cancer every day in Turkey. The Cancer Research Report had striking information about Turkey's cancer expenditure, noting that Turkey spends 2.3 billion euros on prevention and treatment of cancer each year, putting it among the top six European countries in terms of spending on the disease. This figure is expected to exceed 10 billion euros by 2030.