In Poland, every year 18,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and, unfortunately, as many as 12,000 people die. After being diagnosed with cervical cancer, only 48 percent of women survive five years – well below the European average. Doctors invariably sound the alarm: the earlier we know that something is wrong, the better our chances of being cured of cancer. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.
– I have always perceived myself as a very conscious person who takes care of various matters, including taking care of herself – says Aga Szuścik, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2018. She was 33 at the time. Four years have passed since the last cytology. – On my to-do list was to go to the gynecology clinic for preventive examinations. On the other hand, the note never seemed to me current and one that should be pasted in front of other cards, because I had no symptoms – she adds.
Aga Szuścik has been educating women and convincing them of the power of preventive examinations for several years. She is also the author of an artistic photo-documentation of her illness entitled “It doesn’t happen.” – I found out I had cancer. Then there are metastases. That’s why my treatment was first by removing the uterus, then by chemotherapy, by radiation, and now by constant checks – he says.
Every third woman uses prophylactic cytology of the National Health Fund
Cervical cancer ranks seventh in incidence among women. Regular examinations dramatically reduce the risk of death. However, the departments are full of people who did not take care of it on time.
– Patients come who are in their seventies and have not been to a gynecologist since the last delivery, which is about 40 years – emphasizes Dr. Leszek Smorąg from the Świętokrzyskie Cancer Center.
According to official data from prophylactic cytology funded by National Health Fund only a third of women use it. This, however, does not give a complete picture of the situation. – A large group of people use non-public facilities and doctors who work in the private sector. And here we no longer have such a registration – admits the national consultant in the field of gynecological oncology of the National Institute of Oncology, prof. Mariusz Bidziński.
Epidemiologists estimate that a preventive program is effective when at least 70 percent of people participate in it. population. It is difficult to reliably assess what it looks like in Poland. In 2021, only 13% of respondents performed the survey. women. – The number of cancers may not have increased, but the severity of some diseases may be higher – warns Prof. Mariusz Bidziński.
Doctors call for anti-cancer prevention
In Poland, 48 percent of women survive five years after being diagnosed with cervical cancer – the European average is 62 percent. The more advanced the cancer, the lower the chance of survival. Pap smear allows you to detect changes earlier, for example in the precancerous stage.
Unfortunately, sending invitations, even personal invitations, for cytological examinations does little. – We have responses to these invitations in the range of 8-10 percent – points out Dr. Leszek Smorąg.
The most effective incentive for preventive examinations – not only cytology, but also, for example, colonoscopy – is an incentive, a doctor’s recommendation. The hospital in Jastrzębie Zdrój has just returned to the prophylactic colonoscopy program, and patients who come for the examination fill out a survey.
– There is a box that they mark where they got information about this study or what encouraged it. And most often it is a primary care physician or a specialist doctor – occasionally the press or some other sources.
– The preventive colonoscopy program did not function almost throughout 2022. At that time, it was no longer funded by the Ministry of Health. The National Health Fund already pays for the new edition of the programmes, says Wiesław Folwarczny from the Provincial Specialist Hospital No. 2 in Jastrzębie-Zdrój.
The president of the EuropaColon Polska Foundation, Iga Rowińska, states that “the problem will affect us even in a few years”. – People who could have had a prophylactic colonoscopy last year did not have it done and they do not know that something bad is happening in their intestine – he adds.
In Poland, 18,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year, unfortunately, 12,000 people die.