Treating cancer patients abroad has become business, says Kazakh expert

NUR-SULTAN – Helping Kazakh patients to travel abroad for treatment has become an industry in the country, said Kazakh Research Institute of Oncology and Radiology Board Chairperson Dilyara Kaidarova Oct. 15 at the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in the capital.

Kazakh Research Institute of Oncology and Radiology Board Chairperson Dilyara Kaidarova.

“I checked these cases (of sending patients abroad for treatment) and there are companies that lobby for sending our patients for treatment. They also receive certain bonuses for this. This is a kind of a business,” she noted.

Such lobbying is particularly prominent in pediatric oncology.

“There are companies that lobby for treatment abroad. We started contacting them and identifying these cases when they simply come to the patient’s room and the mother (of the patient) is being told ‘come, we will gather the money for your child and send them abroad.’ Then, we conducted a survey of the parents. They are fine with everything. It’s mainly done in the pediatric oncology field,” she added.

Companies are able to conduct business due to the stigma surrounding cancer in Kazakhstan, which prevents having an open conversation about the disease.

“Patients are grateful; they survive, they live. Not everyone wants to talk about their problem; not all patients can go out and say, ‘I had cancer, I survived it.’ We have the concept of ‘zhaman aura’ – ‘bad illness.’ Whoever finds out about the disease simply does not talk about it,” said Kaidarova.

The cancer rate is on the rise in Kazakhstan and throughout the world due to environmental and hereditary factors.

“Of the 180,000 cancer patients, 52 percent beat cancer. All over the world, there is an increase in the cancer occurrence rate. First of all, it is environmental issues that influence cancer rates, as well as hereditary factors. The papilloma virus causes cervical cancer; stress, hepatitis B and C viruses cause liver cancer,” she noted.

Preventive examinations are necessary to combat increasing cancer rates.

“We all know that in the first stage we can cure our patients. For example, with lung cancer, 70 percent come with late stage. With liver cancer, 90 percent come with late stage. Therefore, our population needs to undergo these preventive examinations once a year,” she added.

In early 2019, 179,397 cancer patients were registered in Kazakhstan. Approximately 35,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the country.