The challenge of providing effective cancer care in Mexico is not only economic but also a matter of training more specialized medical personnel and individuals taking responsibility for their own health, according to Eduardo Emir Cervera Ceballos, a Hematopathology Professor at the University's Faculty of Medicine and Director of Teaching at the National Cancer Institute.
Speaking on World Cancer Day, Ceballos highlighted that malignant tumors are the second and third leading cause of death in Mexico. The Mexican Oncology Society has only 1,400 registered members across its various specializations, equating to one specialist for every 90,000 people.
The Ministry of Health reported approximately 2,202 oncologists, but Ceballos suggests that the actual number of medical oncologists is less than 500, with approximately 700 or 800 surgical oncologists and 200-250 radiation oncologists. These figures indicate a dire need for training and development in the field of oncology.
Ceballos emphasized that cancer care requires a multidisciplinary approach, with over 12 professionals involved in treating a woman with breast cancer, including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, nurses, nutritionists, and psychologists.
In addition to training more medical personnel, Ceballos stressed the need for greater investment in equipment, facilities, and resources. However, he also cautioned that medical buildings are of little use without a dedicated team of doctors, pharmacists, nutritionists, psychologists, and social workers to attend to patients' needs.
Ceballos also called on individuals to take responsibility for their own health, advising them to adopt healthy habits such as proper nutrition, hygiene, and avoiding smoking, which can lead to at least eight different types of cancer.
Ceballos highlighted the challenges of training medical personnel, with prospective oncologists requiring at least eight to nine years of study and experience, in addition to a year of social service and several more years of residency and specialization.
The need for training and investment in medical personnel and resources is an urgent requirement, warned Ceballos, stressing that failure to do so could result in entire regions being left without vital healthcare services.