Russian Health Ministry believes Russia needs 2,000 more oncologists

News4 February 2020

The most problematic regions cited were the Far East and North Caucasus.

During a press conference, the head oncologist (consultant) at Russia’s Health Ministry, Andrey Kaprin, said the country needed 1,987 more oncologists.

According to Kaprin, Moscow and St Petersburg have the best situations with oncologists, while the Russian Far East and North Caucasus (federal districts) have the worst.

The Health Ministry estimates that 3.7 million people in Russia suffered from cancer in 2019. The number continued to rise in absolute terms, though the pace of growth declined. Moscow’s Gertsen cancer research center estimates there were 624,709 cases of malignant tumors in Russia in 2018, up 1.2% versus 2017 – which could be attributable to better diagnostics.

Nevertheless, a key problem with cancer treatment in Russia is late detection and poor diagnosis. This is likely because of a lacking awareness among physicians, in particular about cancer of the liver, pancreas and mouth. Four of 10 people who see an oncologist in Russia are at the final, or fourth, stage of cancer, according to the latest nosology.

In addition, the mortality rate for cancer patients in Russia is consistently elevated, the country usually fifth in the world by number of cancer deaths.

Mikhail Laskov, an oncologist and doctor, told AIDS.CENTER in an interview that Russia does not have any effective programs to detect cancer. He said, «as far as the [detection] statistics go, everything depends on the specific illness, though in Russia cancer gets detected at later stages than in countries with developed economies. And that is not because the screening is bad; the problem is with how people visit doctors and bad diagnostics – a person goes for months from one doctor to another, all of them pass him off, and during that time an early stage can turn into a late one».

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