NABLUS, West Bank, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Remzeya al-Khatib, a Palestinian woman from the northern West Bank city of Nablus, who suffers from breast cancer, regularly goes to oncology department in Nablus Hospital to get chemical therapeutic doses to relief pain and block the tumor from spreading.
Al-Khatib is one of a group of women who regularly come to the department from all over the West Bank, lay on beds and inject with drips into their veins to receive the needed doses of chemotherapy to treat their disease. They look pale and exhausted as they lay on beds for three hours each time.
"I suddenly felt severe pain in my breast when I hit my body with the closet's door, and when I had a bleeding and went for medical examinations, I was told that I had breast cancer," al- Khatib said, adding that "the most disgusting thing is the side effects of chemotherapy, the pain and loosing my hair."
The woman said she never expected to have cancer, adding that " so far I had already eight chemotherapy doses, and three weeks between each dose."
Breast cancer has become the top fatal disease for women in the West Bank, while lung cancer is the first for men. According to statistics from the Palestinian ministry of health in the West Bank, the rate of death due to cancer in the area has increased to 10.8 percent of the total death in 2010 and 12.4 percent in 2011. The figures show that 18.2 percent of those who died of cancer had lung cancer, and 14.5 percent died of colon cancer, while 8.7 percent died of breast cancer.
Bilal Abu Fkheida, an oncologist doctor, said there are various reasons behind the increasing cases of cancer in the West Bank, such as genetic factors, the fact that many women are not doing natural breast feeding, and late pregnancy.
"There are other environmental reasons that are negatively reflected on human beings, mainly high radiations, the unhealthy nutrition system and the air pollution," Abu Fkheida said, adding that the early discovering of cancers would help to 90 percent of the recovery.
Haj Abu Murad, a 69-year-old man who suffers from lung cancer, is aslo receiving chemotherapy doses at the hospital. His son Osama said, "We are always careful not to tell my father that he has lung cancer because, psychologically, if he knows, he may die. "
"At the beginning, my father didn't know why he is sick, and doctors failed to early discover the cancer in his body," Osama said, "We went to all the hospitals in Jerusalem and in the West Bank and finally we were told that he has lung cancer and he is receiving the chemotherapy."
Lou'ai Shahin, a doctor specialized in leukemia and blood diseases, told Xinhua that many of the cancer patients who need urgent therapy abroad can not travel for security reasons, adding that "although they are dying, Israel refuses to give them permission to go to Israel or to travel abroad."
"But in some cases when the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations intervene, Israel allows for some cases to travel for medical treatment," Shahin said, adding that "usually Israel allows the patient to travel without having any accompany from his family."
Tarif Aashour, a spokesman of the Palestinian health ministry, said West Bank hospitals do not have enough medications for cancer, nor radiotherapy. "Therefore the ministry transfers the cancer patients to other hospitals in which such kinds of medications are available."
"In 2011, the ministry transferred 9,162 cancer patients to hospitals outside the West Bank with a cost of 30 million U.S. dollars," Aashour said, adding that many cancer patients are complaining that the medications they receive at the Palestinian hospitals are not enough to kill their pains.
Al-Khatib also said sometimes she can not find the bills at the hospital in Nablus "and we buy it from a private pharmacy," pointing out that "these medications are very expensive and our economic situation is not that powerful. But when we can't find the medications, the situation gets worse."
However, Shahin said 95 percent of the cancer medications in the West Bank hospitals are available. "Sometimes and due to the medical situation of the patient, we postpone giving him the medicine for several reasons, mainly when the patient has a certain infection in his body," Shahin said.
The budget of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) suffers from a real shortage due to the lack of international donations. The financial crisis of the PNA mounted after Israel refused to transfer the tax revenue dues that represent one-third of the PNA budget.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned in a recent report that 84 million people all over the world will die of cancer within the coming 10 years if suitable measures are not taken to minimize the number, showing that since 2005, around 7 million people died of cancer all over the world.