The Maui Wildfires and Their Impact on Cancer Care

By Milagros Elia, MA, APRN, ANP-BC - Last Updated: September 12, 2023

In this video, Cancer Nursing Today contributor Milagros Elia, MA, APRN, ANP-BC, discusses the tragic fires in Maui and the massive impact these events have on cancer care.

Milagros begins her discussion citing studies explaining how those exposed to wildfires within a year of lung cancer surgery have significantly lower chances of survival than their non-exposed peers. She addresses how interruptions in care increase anxiety and depression among patients with challenges related to their missed care and general financial hardship caused by the events. She continues to share a study addressing how individuals residing within 50km of wildfires have a 10% higher incidence of brain tumors and a 4.9% higher incidence of developing lung cancer over 10 years than people living outside wildfire zones.

Maui faces specific geographical challenges as an island where hospitals are overwhelmed with patients experiencing severe burns and smoke inhalation. Milagros addresses the difficulty of transport to other facilities and notes that some patients are going without medication, medical supplies, treatment, food, clean water, and even shelter.

To conclude, Milagros offers a plea for increased Federal support, citing that FEMA has only provided $700 per household for displacement/damage assistance, which she notes, “in the best of times wouldn’t be enough.”


March Against Fossil Fuels, located in front of the UN on 9/17.

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