According to the most recent statistics from the World Health Organisation, about 15,000 Cambodians are diagnosed with cancer every year, and about 10,000 people die from the disease annually. To try and reduce the mortality rate, SSEAYP International Cambodia cooperated with Calmette Hospital to host the health forum “Lifestyle Related Measures Against Cancer”, organised as part of Project CRANE (Cancer Remembrance Appeal for the Needy).
About 500 participants recently attended an event to launch the forum at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia.
According to Sreang Kimlee, president of SSEAYP International Cambodia, the forum had three main objectives: to commemorate the 10,000 annual cancer victims; to promote cancer awareness and prevention; and to raise funds to support cancer research in Cambodia.
“Few people are aware of the importance of detecting cancer before it develops to the most severe stage. This disease can be treated if people are aware of the early symptoms,” Mr Kimlee said.
One of the reasons for the limited understanding of issues related to cancer in Cambodia was that the country only has about 20 doctors who specialise in treating various kinds of the disease, he said. Furthermore, public education efforts about cancer remain limited.
Mr Kimlee hoped that all participants who join the event would share what they learned with their relatives and friends. He said his team planned to organise more such projects with the aim of disseminating knowledge about the disease.
Speaking at the forum, Dr Hav Monirath, head of the Pathology Department at Calmette Hospital, said that the top six preventable cancers are cervical, lung, breast, liver, oral, and colorectal cancer.
Dr Monirath said, “Reducing or eliminating tobacco use can keep people from developing lung and oral cancer. Second, people should reduce their intake of alcohol, which can lead to oral, colorectal, breast, and liver cancers. Third, people should eat healthily, refrain from overeating and do at least two-and-a-half hours of exercise a week.”
If people can follow these recommendations, she said, they will increase their chances of preventing cancers. Otherwise, she encouraged men to get hepatitis B vaccinations and women to get vaccinated against cervical cancer.
People who live in the provinces can receive vaccinations at RHAC, the doctor said. Residents of Phnom Penh are advised to seek vaccinations at Calmette Hospital and Pasteur Institute.
Dr Monirath added that the rate of deaths from cervical cancer among Cambodian women was high until a few years ago, but thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Health the rate had declined. However, the rate of breast cancer is increasing. Also, the rate of lung cancer in men remains high regionally, the doctor added.