On the eve of World Cancer Day, a letter from Gaza

2,000 Gazans diagnosed with cancer annually

8,644 new cancer cases registered in Gaza during the recent years, as the besieged enclave records new 2000 cases annually, head of the oncology department at the European Gaza Hospital, Ahmed Al-Shurafa, said.
Breast cancer is the most common in the Gaza Strip, at a rate of 18% among women and men, followed by colon, leukemia, thyroid, and lung cancer.

Cancer patients in the Gaza Strip suffer as a result of the shortage of cancer drugs and many other patients are transferred to hospitals abroad because of total absence of their needed medicines, while some cases cannot travel as a result to the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip in general and the obstacles imposed by the Israeli occupation on travellers through crossings in particular, Al-Shorafa added.

Among the challenges facing patients, in addition to the drug crisis and the travel ban, is the lack of devices in the Gaza Strip for nuclear and radiological scanning to detect different types of cancer, which delays the diagnosis of the disease in its early stages.

The international community is urged to intervene to provide the needs of cancer patients and to put pressure on the Israeli occupation to lift the siege and enable freedom of movement.

Dr Basem Naim
Member of Bureau for international relations in Hamas, former minister of health in Palestine

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