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Half of cancer patients won’t get radiotherapy

The BoC Oncology Centre

By Evie Andreou

HALF of the cancer patients diagnosed this year will not be able to receive radiotherapy, and 60 per cent of them will die because of this, the head of the Pancyprian association for cancer patients and relatives, ELAZO, Christos Andreou said on Friday.

Andreou said that this outcome is a result of the poor practices of the government that did not proceed to create other radiology centres on the island, and allows the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre to have the monopoly.

“The Oncology Centre does not allow for the establishment of other radiology centres because it wants to charge the government for the chemotherapy treatments it offers to cancer patients as much as it likes,” Andreou told the Cyprus Mail.

The association’s lawyer has sent a 12-page letter to President Nicos Anastasiades, government ministers, House speaker Yiannakis Omirou, the Health and Human Rights Committees and Auditor-general Odysseas Michaleides to inform them of the issue and to inform them that the next step will be private criminal cases filed against anyone responsible, he said.

“They don’t care if people die. This is a crime almost like murder,” Andreou said.

“According to estimates based on the Health ministry’ s data, around 4,300 to 4,400 new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year, and according to EU standards 65 per cent, or around 2,800 will need radiotherapy, but the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre’s three linear accelerators only have the capacity to serve around 1,400 per year,” Andreou said.

He said that according to a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) study, 60 per cent of newly diagnosed cancer patients who do not receive radiotherapy will die.

Andreou added that cancer patients, who will not be given radiotherapy at the BoC oncology centre, will be prescribed chemotherapy instead, and this is the reason why says that no other radiotherapy centres exist.

“Some people take commissions from pharmaceutical companies to promote chemotherapy, so they profit from fewer linear accelerators on the island. Based on our population, Cyprus should have at least seven linear accelerators,” he said.

A 2014 report by the Auditor-general found that there is need for more linear accelerators, Andreou said, and suggested that if the government cannot afford to establish them then it could have them built on a public-private partnership (PPP).

“Two companies that run radiology centres in various countries were in Cyprus in May to discuss the possibility with the Health ministry, but the government has commissioned an expert from abroad to study how many linear accelerators are needed. Her report says the same things as a 2012 study by the Oncology Centre, which I had found was inaccurate and I was proven right,” Andreou said.

Following information he acquired from parliamentary documents, the expert is in fact paid by the bank, he said.

“The Health ministry, the oncology centre and other sharks, that want monopoly, to take advantage of cancer patients… they organised a non-scientific study, whose draft has proven to be a deliberate deception and misrepresentation of facts and ignore the suffering of cancer patients and their unjust death,” the letter said.

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