Most patients seek care when disease is at advanced stage

  • world cancer day
- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Feb 5, 2017-

Majority of cancer patients in Nepal go to the hospital only after the disease has reached advanced stage, thereby with minimal chances of survival, and this has emerged as a major challenge in treating them, experts said. 

Evidence from leading cancer hospitals in the country including BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, Chitwan, and Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital, Bhaktapur, show that over 60 percent of the patients who come for treatment have advanced stage of cancer. 

The Chitwan-based cancer hospital sees around 7,000 new cancer patients each year while Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital sees around 2,500. What is worrisome is, according to experts, half of the cancer patients do not even visit hospitals. 

Every year an estimated 30,000 people are diagnosed with cancer and the number is gradually increasing.

Dr Prakash Raj Neupane, however, says at least patients are now visiting hospitals. “Until few years ago they were left at home to die or would not see doctors at all,” says Dr Neupane, who is chairman of BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital. According to the World Health Organisation, the five most common types of cancer in Nepal are gynaecological, lung, head and neck (lip and oral cavity, nasopharynx, larynx and thyroid) and various haematological malignancies. Experts say lack of awareness among people and inability to conduct mass screening programme on a regular basis have been taking a toll on patients. Dr Bishnu Prasad Poudel, chief of oncology department at Bir Hospital, says the tendency to seek medical care at the later stage is same with each disease that reflects peoples’ negligence about health issues. 

“With regular check-ups many of these ailments can be diagnosed at an early stage. Early stage diagnosis of cancer means that people can get back to their normal life soon after the treatment,” says Dr Poudel. “Cancer is curable when patients reach out to doctors fast.”

Laying stress on conducting regular screening programmes, Dr Poudel underscores the need of expanding services at government facilities. BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital is the biggest cancer hospital in the country while other government hospitals, including Bir Hospital, have dedicated oncology units.


Key facts

-    Around 20,000 people die every year from cancer in Nepal, with almost 30,000 new cases a year

-    Around 2,500 patients visit Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital each year.  

-    More than 1,000 women die from cervical cancer in Nepal each year, making it the most common cancer among women in the country

-    One of the most significant challenges related to cancer in Nepal is lack of awareness. Many believe the disease is incurable, and only half of the total cancer patients visit hospitals-majority of them when the disease has reached advanced stage



Rs 100,000-Rs 500,000 proposed in financial aid

KATHMANDU: The government is planning to increase financial assistance of Rs 100,000-Rs 500,000 to the poor suffering from serious ailments including cancer. Bhogendra Dotel, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said the ministry has revised the existing guidelines and has sought the consent from the Ministry of Finance for the same. The ministry will start releasing the amount to the needy as soon as it gets the approval from the MoF, he said. (PR)

Published: 05-02-2017 08:15

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