Par Hajar THE FAKER
Rabat, 11/22/2020 (MAP) – On the occasion of the National Day of the fight against cancer, celebrated on November 22 of each year, the MAP approached the specialist in oncology and radiotherapy, Dr Fadwa Qachach, to forward the progress made by the Kingdom in terms of access to treatment and reception and care structures, as well as the challenges of early detection, in addition to the impact of Covid-19 on cancer patients.
1. What are the various achievements made in terms of access to cancer treatment and reception and care structures?
In 2010, Morocco implemented the first National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (PNPCC), in accordance with global recommendations. This plan had established new approaches to prevention, screening, treatment and social support (creation of nursing homes, strengthening of palliative care, etc.) and made it possible to make great advances in the area of cancer care and prevention. .
As oncologists, we witnessed the very positive impact of this strategy on the field of oncology and on the care of cancer patients in Morocco.
In addition, a new 2020-2029 plan has just been published which recommends consolidating and sustaining the achievements of the first 2010-2019 plan, correcting the shortcomings identified, particularly those relating to the governance of the plan and the quality of care, and to propose innovative actions and measures in all areas.
2. What advances has Morocco made in terms of treatment?
Oncology in Morocco has experienced enormous progress in recent years, notably with the creation of new oncology services in several cities of the Kingdom, thus improving access to treatment for patients.
There is also a better availability of new anticancer therapies such as targeted therapies, immunotherapy and innovative radiotherapy techniques such as intensity modulated radiotherapy and stereotaxic radiotherapy, which is a high precision technique.
3. Can it be said that early diagnosis is the key in the treatment of all types of cancer?
Absolutely. Early diagnosis significantly increases the chances of cancer recovery and survival. In addition, certain types of cancer are accessible to simple tests making it possible to detect, in an apparently healthy population, subjects who have cancer but do not show any symptoms. This is the case, in particular, of breast, prostate and cervical cancers.
A cancer diagnosed late can unfortunately make it impossible to offer a treatment and condemn many patients to suffer and die prematurely.
4. Does a person’s emotional state really have an influence in their battle with cancer?
Our emotional health often impacts our physical health. Stress, depression and any negative emotions weaken our immune system and can even create hormonal imbalance. This can increase the risk of developing cancers and decrease their cure rates.
Stress can also lead the patient to adopt toxic habits such as overeating, smoking and alcoholism which are all bad lifestyle habits that reduce the effectiveness of cancer treatments.
5. What impact does Covid-19 have on cancer patients? What advice can I give them?
This pandemic unfortunately affected the diagnosis and care of these patients. We have noticed an upsurge in cases diagnosed late after confinement. The end of the screening campaigns during this period also had a great impact.
Cancer patients undergoing treatment often have a weakened immune system, which could make them more vulnerable to the disease.
However, a cancer patient is not at greater risk of specific Covid-19 infection: the increased risk applies to all infectious diseases.
A study conducted by the Institut Curie on 200 patients treated for cancer and suffering from the coronavirus found that “Covid-19 is not more common in cancer patients than in the general population. In addition, infection with SARS-CoV-2 is not an aggravating factor and does not cause excess mortality in these patients ”.
I also recommend that patients wash their hands frequently, wear their masks, clean surfaces with disinfectants and respect the rules of social distancing as well as avoid any close contact with people suffering from respiratory infections. acute. Vaccines (such as the flu shot) are also highly recommended.