World Cancer Day is celebrated on February 4. Oncological diseases remain a big problem both in Ukraine and throughout the world.
In Ukraine, during the first year of the full-scale war, 93,000 people were diagnosed with cancer, and 39,000 died of cancer. At the same time, we understand that the real numbers may be higher, because part of the country’s territory is occupied, and many people also went abroad.
What is the state doing to treat cancer in Ukraine?
The state program of medical guarantees covers the main types of diagnosis and medical care at each stage of treatment, including surgical removal of tumors, chemotherapy and radiological treatment.
For patients, treatment services are completely free of charge, they are paid for by the National Health Service of Ukraine. Thus, the state pays the hospital about UAH 131,000 for chemotherapy treatment and support for one patient under the age of 18, and about UAH 36,000 for one adult.
The state also provides chemotherapy drugs, which are purchased under the state program. The state allocates almost UAH 224,000 for the treatment of oncohematological diseases for one patient under the age of 18, and more than UAH 61,000 for an adult.
For radiological treatment and support of both adults and children, medical institutions receive more than UAH 51,000, and if they have modern equipment for radiotherapy, in particular a linear accelerator, gamma knife or cyberknife, more than UAH 77,000.
In 2023, the National Health Service paid more than 6 billion hryvnias to medical institutions for the treatment of oncology patients. Of these, 2.26 billion UAH were spent on chemotherapeutic treatment, 2.44 billion UAH on radiation therapy, and 1.36 billion UAH on treatment of patients with hematological and oncohematological diseases.
Also, the state centrally purchases medicines and medical products necessary for the treatment of oncological diseases. In 2023, Medzakupivli purchased almost 100 different drugs and medical devices for the free treatment of oncological diseases in adult patients.
The total value of these goods is more than UAH 2.1 billion. In addition, 400 million hryvnias were purchased for drugs for the treatment of children diagnosed with “oncology”. Medical procurement of Ukraine procures for Ukrainians chemotherapeutic drugs, accompanying drugs (used to reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs), medical products used to fight cancer, etc.
To receive all services free of charge, patients need only have a referral from a family or specialist doctor. It is important – if the patient has moved to another area, it is not necessary to renew the declaration with another doctor. You can contact your doctor and find out if he can give you an electronic referral remotely, or get such a referral from another doctor.
Purchase of innovative equipment for radiation therapy
At the end of last year, Ukraine purchased 15 systems of linear accelerators for radiation therapy. Linear accelerators are innovative equipment that allow X-rays or gamma radiation to directly affect cancer cells or tumors in the patient’s internal organs, while minimally harming healthy tissues. In this way, difficult stages of cancer can be treated non-operatively and with greater efficiency.
This is very expensive equipment, but thanks to the fact that we purchased linear accelerators through Medical Procurement of Ukraine, its total cost was UAH 541 million instead of the expected more than UAH 1 billion. Therefore, with the saved funds, another purchase of this equipment, which is very much needed by people with cancer, will soon be possible.
Linear accelerator systems will be distributed in Sumy, Rivne, Chernivtsi, Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, Chernihiv, Poltava, Cherkasy, Kherson, Volyn, Ivano-Frankivsk, Odesa, Kirovohrad, Kharkiv and Kyiv regions.
The state finances bone marrow transplantation
In 2024 bone marrow transplantwhich is often needed by patients with blood cancers, was added to the medical guarantee program.
Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside the bones that produces blood-forming stem cells. In some types of blood cancer and a number of other diseases, the bone marrow cannot produce stem cells or produces sick ones.
Transplantation of healthy hematopoietic stem cells or part of the bone marrow from a donor prolongs the patient’s life and allows continued treatment until remission is achieved.
A pilot project on bone marrow transplantation was launched back in 2019, when such operations were carried out with state funds only in three institutions – the National Cancer Institute, the “Okhmatdyt” Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, and the Cherkasy Regional Oncology Dispensary. The number of institutions is gradually increasing.
Currently, such operations can be performed in nine hospitals, six of them are located in Kyiv, one each in Cherkasy, Lviv and Dnipro. In 2023, despite the war in Ukraine, it was already over 340 transfers bone marrowwhile in 2022 there were 223 of them.
Previously, we had our own register of bone marrow donors. Why is this important?
Initially, in Ukraine, bone marrow transplants were performed only from donor relatives – if it was possible. But often relatives are not suitable as blood donors. Since 2020, after the introduction of the necessary legislative changes, such operations began to be carried out in Ukraine, but then unrelated donors were still sought in other countries.
Thanks to the donor registry, you can find a donor in Ukraine as well. However, so far the base of potential candidates was small – only about 9 thousand people, while there are more than 40 million of them in the world register. The more bone marrow donors there are, the more chances there are to find the right one. If there are a million people in the Ukrainian registry, then it will be possible to find a donor for almost every case.
Bone marrow donation is a safe procedure, after which a person recovers quickly. Registering as a potential donor is simple – willing people under 35 years old need to fill out an application on the website, and you will receive a letter with a test package.
It contains cotton buds: run them along the inner surface of the cheeks and send them back. The laboratory will type your DNA sample and enter you into a database in order to find a suitable donor in the future.
Therefore, I urge everyone to participate in bone marrow donation and help save lives!
Unfortunately, no one is immune from cancer. But 40% of cancer cases can be prevented thanks to a healthy lifestyle, in particular by giving up smoking, sunbathing on the beach or in a solarium, and limiting alcohol consumption.
And it is worth remembering that early detection of cancer significantly increases the chances of successful treatment. Therefore, I would like to appeal to Ukrainian men and women: do not forget to visit your family doctor at least once a year, do not be afraid to ask what kind of preventive examinations you need in view of your age, state of health and family history of diseases. And if you have alarming symptoms, don’t wait for them to pass by themselves.
Take care of your health – destroy cancer’s plans!
Victor LyashkoMinister of Health of Ukraine, specially for UP.Zhyttya
Publications in the “View” section are not editorial articles and reflect exclusively the author’s point of view.