YOUR HEALTH: Treating cancer in a war zone; Caring for Ukrainians

Images and pictures that we’ve seen almost every day for months – shelled out cities in Ukraine, women and children heading for the border, while men stay behin
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 4:19 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2023 at 6:52 AM CST
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BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – As many as 160,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year in Ukraine, and health experts say continuing care for these patients, either in new countries, or in their homeland, may pose a global health challenge.

Images and pictures that we’ve seen almost every day for months – shelled out cities in Ukraine, women and children heading for the border, while men stay behind to fight. Mercy Medical Center surgical oncologist, Vadim Gushchin, MD, was invited to Ukraine in 2012 before the war and met with leaders in Lugansk to discuss an American-led hospital there. He formed a bond with his Ukrainian counterparts.

“I can’t even imagine how difficult it was for them to survive and provide patient care,” he expresses.

Dr. Gushchin says the Ukrainian doctors texted him when the invasion started. Patients and healthcare workers sheltered in hospital basements. Oncologists began to map out what procedures they could and couldn’t do.

“What if there is no electricity and the treatment is terminated midway? So, what do you do?” Dr. Gushchin explains.

Roads were blocked and infrastructure was broken, so, chemotherapy and radiation supplies became a deep concern. Some patients were evacuated.

Dr. Gushchin adds, “They decided to outsource higher acuity care to safer places or to send patients to Europe.”

Cancer care for refugees can be tricky, as medical records are hard to access, and language could become a barrier. Dr. Gushchin said one other obstacle to cancer care is the dwindling number of Ukrainian oncologists – many of the male oncologists also felt compelled to serve and joined the Ukrainian army. The American Cancer Society and Cancer.net have compiled resources to help people with cancer navigate their care during the Ukrainian crisis. More information is available at www.asco.org.

Contributors to this news report include Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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