By Bibi Khatoon
The Cancer Institute of Guyana has seen a decrease in Breast Cancer cases this year when compared to 2017.
At the end of 2017, the Cancer Institute of Guyana recorded over 70 cases of Breast Cancer. However, according to the Institute’s Director of Outreaches, Dr. Syed Ghazi, this year, there have been 59 cases so far and this is not expected to increase within the next two months.
“I think that the awareness in society on Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer has increased,” Dr. Ghazi said.
As the Cancer Institute of Guyana joins in observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month, he noted that the decrease, however, does not reduce the need for early screening.
“If a woman comes to us with a lump or lymph nodes in the armpit, it’s already too late. So screening is actually to pick up things when women don’t even notice it,” he said.
Dr. Ghazi added that “if we can catch this disease early, it is curable.”
He noted that persons should ignore statements that Cancers are deadly and incurable as this makes them pessimistic about getting screened.
“From 20 to 40 years, you can go to a clinical specialist and get examined and 40+ mammogram and ultrasound is the way to screen. We want regular screening every year because suppose you miss a screening and you develop something during that time…two years after, it will be already too late,” he explained.
While screening is important, however, Country representative of the Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation, Dr. William AduKrow at the launch of Breast Cancer Awareness month on October 1, noted that it is as important to ensure follow-ups are done.
Referring to a study done by the Harvard University, he said: “persons who are told that they have a disease, lives 18 months shorter than persons who have the same disease at the same level but don’t know that they have it.”
During this month and onwards, Dr AduKrow urged all stakeholders, including civil society should collaborate, for the development and implementation of evidence-based policies, guidelines and protocols, as well as capacity building for health care providers to prevent and control all types of cancer, not only breast cancer.
In addition, he said there is need to strengthen health promotion and health education efforts aimed at improving awareness and understanding among women about the importance of screening and early detection for breast cancer, and not to postpone seeking care in the presence of signs or symptoms.
“Cancer spares no one. It touches the rich and poor, young and old, men, women and children,” he said.
The Cancer Institute is urging families and communities to support Cancer patients as they fight their battle against the disease. Among the activities planned by the Cancer Institute for this month is a candlelight vigil aimed at showing support for cancer patients.
Globally, the most common type of cancer in women is breast cancer.
According to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Guyana recorded 6,518 cancers for the period 2003 – 2012. Of these, 3,956 or 60.7% were females and 2,561 or 39.3% were males.
In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), breast cancer ranks as the first cancer type both in terms of new cases and deaths. In Guyana, breast, cervical and uterine cancers are the leading causes of death from cancers in women.