According to the report, cancer has become the second-leading cause of death in the Gaza Strip after heart disease.
The report states that 12.4% of total deaths in the Palestinian territories in 2011 were caused by cancer, compared to a rate of 10.8% in 2010. According to a report issued by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in June 2012, cancer was the cause of 12% of all deaths in the Gaza Strip.
The Al Mezan report indicates that males make up 47% of cancer patients in the Gaza Strip, whereas females account for 53%. Breast cancer is the most common disease, accounting for 16.5% of all cancer cases. Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer, accounting for 9.7% of all diagnoses, and is the leading form of cancer among men.
The report's authors raised a number of possible reasons for the high rate of cancer-related deaths. One of them was the extensive use of pesticides, and another was contaminated drinking water.
Lack of devices for diagnosing disease (Photo: AFP)
Dr. Khalid Thabet, head of the Oncology Department at the Shifa Hospital, told Al-Monitor that he expected the rate of cancer patients to double over the next five years in the Gaza Strip, blaming Israel for using uranium in its attacks during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. Israel has denied these allegations.
The high rate of cancer-related deaths stems not only from the high disease rate, but also from the absence of a general culture concerned with the importance of periodic inspection and early detection, and the fact that hospitals in Gaza lack computed tomography or devices and materials for diagnosing the disease, according to sources quoted by the newspaper.
The serious shortage of medical equipment and doctors specializing in oncology leaves the residents with only one choice – seeking treatment outside the Strip. But patients are sometimes forced to wait months before they receive a permit to leave Gaza for neighboring countries or enter the State of Israel for diagnosis and treatment.