First and foremost: Behavioural change

Reducing the risk of cancer is more to do with behavioural change, says Dadi Toka Jnr, CEO of the PNG Cancer Foundation.

This is about healthy lifestyle choices and begins way before being diagnosed with cancer.

It is primary prevention.

Toka Jnr said the curative aspect of cancer (treating cancer) is expensive; not just in PNG but in the world.

“We only have one cancer unit in the country that does radiotherapy. There are other hospitals also that do chemo and surgical which we’re very fortunate. But once again, the options are very limited and this is where prevention is very important,” he said.

The foundation has been going into communities and very recently, began with schools.

“Our strength is in education and awareness. And when you’re doing awareness and education, it’s around behavioural change. This needs be adopted to reduce the risk of developing cancer,” he said.

But as far as education and awareness is concerned, “we’re only scratching the surface”.

And changing habits can take years.

“So it’s important to get more people behind this education and awareness and it’ll trigger something with the Department of Health and the government.”

Gloria Bauai