Cancer is still taboo
“Cancer is reportedly a big problem in Suriname because people do not dare to talk about it openly.The disease is still taboo among the Surinamese people,” Sharita Gangaram Panday, CEO at the Radio Therapeutic Center Suriname (RTCS), told Times of Suriname on Saturday. “People get the urge to link cancer to death and that is why they seek help when it is too late or why they come in for treatment at a later stage.” Cancer is still one of the most common causes of death in Suriname and according to a 2014 report from the General Statistics Bureau (ABS), about 2,000 are living with cancer. The most common types of cancer in Suriname are breast, cervical and prostate cancer. “People are afraid to talk openly about these types of cancer due to a lack of information. In the past it was not possible to treat cancer patients in Suriname but now that has changed. Last year the RTCS started giving information to students at junior and senior high schools. “Youths must come to realize that cancer can be cured in an early stage and that it is not taboo to talk about it,” said Gangaram Panday. Robert Mehilal, radiation oncologist at the RTCS, explained that 80% of all types of cancer in Suriname can be treated. “Rare types of cancer can’t be treated in Suriname and so the patient is sent abroad for further medical treatment,” said Mehilal who added that cancer is still taboo because people quickly think of death when they hear the word cancer and because they are not aware that they can have treatment in Suriname. “There is surgery, chemotherapy and radiation,” said the radiation oncologist. “The sooner you go to the doctor, the bigger the changes of getting cured,” said Mehilal.