Cancer patients in Bulawayo and surrounding areas stranded
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Mpilo is a referral hospital that services Matabeleland region, which covers Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.
The development has forced desperate patients to travel to Harare's Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals for treatment.
"We are in a very difficult situation because travelling to Harare is costly. After forking out all the money to go there you have to spend hours in the queue when you are expected to report back to work on time. The Government must do something about this issue and help us," said a patient.
Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive officer Dr Wedu Ndebele confirmed that the machine was not working.
"The issue is straight foward. Our radiotherapy machine is old and we are in the process of replacing it. The machine was repaired sometime in March this year but has been constantly breaking down," said Dr Ndebele without specifying when the machine stopped working.
"New machines have been bought by the Government and one of them has been delivered. At the moment we are working on renovations of the departmental rooms where the new machines will be installed."
A senior official from the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture in Matabeleland North also said the issue was a cause for concern as affected teachers were leaving classes as they sought treatment.
"As a ministry we are very worried about this because most of the affected teachers are spending days in the queue in Harare to get treatment. Others are even going for sick leave because they cannot access treatment locally. This is affecting the learning process and Government should address that urgently," said the official who preferred anonymity.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, which are also called malignant cells. It grows out of normal cells in the body.
Normal cells multiply when the body needs them, and die when the body doesn't need them.
Cancer appears to occur when the growth of cells in the body is out of control and cells divide too quickly. It can also occur when cells forget how to die.
There are many different kinds of cancer that can develop in almost any organ or tissue, such as the lung, colon, breast, skin, bones, or nerve tissue.
Some of the causes of the disease include excess alcohol intake, benzene and other chemicals, obesity, viruses, radiation, genetic problems and excess exposure to sunlight.
Symptoms of cancer depend on the type and location of the cancer.
For example, lung cancer can cause coughing, shortness of breath or chest pain. Colon cancer often causes diarrhoea, constipation and blood in the stool.
Some cancers may not have any symptoms at all. In certain cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, symptoms often do not start until the disease has reached an advanced stage.
Cancer treatment varies depending on the type of cancer and its stage. The stage of a cancer refers to how much it has grown and whether the tumour has spread from its original location.
If the cancer is confined to one location and has not spread, the most common treatment approach is surgery to cure the cancer. If the tumour has spread to local lymph- nodes only, sometimes these can be removed.
If surgery cannot remove all of the cancer, the options for treatment include radiation chemotherapy or both. Some cancers require a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph glands, is rarely treated with surgery.
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