Mon. Dec 9th, 2019

Cancer, a growing crisis in Palau

Cancer growth in Palau has been increasing alarmingly every year, according to data from Palau National Health Insurance (NHI) of the last three years.

Cancer cases of the last 3 years alone have cost the Republic 49 lives and over $1.6 million dollars and the trend is not slowing down.

Data shows cancer cases sent out through NHI medical referral in 2017 were only 16 but in 2018 it rose to 38 cases, a 41% increase over previous year.  So far for 2019, 48 cases have been sent out, an 81% increase over 2018.

These numbers do not reflect the overall number of cancer cases in Palau at each period.  They only reflect those cases that went through the National Health Insurance medical referral program. Cases that went to either Tripler Hospital or were not referred out due to other factors such as terminal diagnosis are not included in these numbers.

The number of people dying of cancer have also increased with total of 39 deaths out of 102 referred cases. This too reflect only those cases captured by NHI and does not capture other cancer related deaths outside of the NHI medical referral program.

Record shows that nearly half of these 102 referred cancer cases patients had cancer recurring after the initial treatment and needed to be sent back for medical treatment.  Total of 46 cases are recurring cases.

Cancer cases afflict all ages but record shows increase in cases in ages between 40 to 70 with median age for men 60 and over and for women over 50 and over.  Cancer cases are not only not affect older people also seen in younger patients as well.

Based on the three-year data, 48 of the cancer cases were men and 23 of them had died. Report cites prostate cancer as most common among those male cancer cases out of the 10 different types of cancers diagnosed.

Women had more cancer referral cases with 54 cases over the past 3 years.  Of the 54 cases, 16 have died.  The most common cancer type for the women is breast cancer out of the 13 different cancer types.

Palau National Health Insurance reports that the increase in recurring cases among patients is most common among patients that were diagnosed late.

The cancer cases amongst Palauans are due to number of factors including age, genetics, lifestyle and others.  Late diagnosis is tied to number of the deaths as well as increase in recurring cases in the cancer patients.

Cancer affect both men and women of all ages and early detection may help save a life.   (See next article on help and services available for you or your loved in Palau)