In a small ceremony within the Cancer Clinic this week, head of cancer clinic, Dr. Peter Olali thanked both Post PNG and Sesago Healthcare for making it possible for cancer drugs, gleevec Imatinib Misylate to be delivered to patients with a form of leukemia.
”Cancer is not just about radiation treatment only. There are other ones that do not need radiation treatment. Solid cancers like breast cancer, oral cancer, and those cancers will need radiation treatment. There are other cancers that we called blood cancers, cancers in the blood. That one no radiation treatment” said Dr. Olali.
Cancers of the blood can only be treated by oral drugs or by bone marrow transplant. These kind of treatments are very expensive for anyone. Dr. Olali explained that Leukemia is a cancer of the blood which in PNG would be regarded as a death sentence, if one is diagnosed with it.
“But there are certain leukemia we can be able to treat. And many have really done well when we started the treatment,” he said.
Common cancer treatment chemo therapy has its side effects that kills both the cancer cells as well as good body cells. Dr. Olali said new form of targeted therapy has been developed but it comes with a high cost.
“We have been coordinating this treatment for leukemia in Papua New Guinea since 2008, treating all those cancer patients coming in especially with leukemia, specifically, chronic myeloid leukemia.”
A new drug, Gleevec Imatinib Misylate was discovered in 2001 but PMGH only had access to it in 2008. It is a four tablets per day dose with no side effects. However for one patient to have a year’s dose costs K24,000, which is out of any ordinary patient’s financial capabilities.
Dr. Olali said the clinic got the Gleevec drugs free or charge, Sesago Health Care assisted in paying for the freights and Post PNG have agreed to be the carriers of this medicine to patients located in any of its 43 centers around the country.