Cancer registry agreement signed

 The Health Services Authority and
the Cayman Islands Cancer Society have formalised an agreement to set up the Islands’
first cancer registry.

The registry will track the
prevalence of all types of cancers seen in Cayman, enabling better treatment,
education and preparation, health officials said.

Canover Watson, chairman of the
Health Services Authority Board, prior to signing the agreement on Thursday
afternoon, said the registry had been “a long time in the works”.

He described it as “a milestone”
that would be of major benefit to Cayman.

The registry is a joint project –
funded by the Cancer Society and housed and implemented by the HSA – which, for
the first time, will enable medical professionals and the community to
ascertain the most common types of cancer, identify those at risk and the potential
causes.

Lizzette Yearwood, CEO of the Health
Services Authority, said the registry was the latest in a series of partnerships
with the Cancer Society. They have joined forces previously to introduce a
digital mammogram to the hospital and to distribute human papillomavirus vaccinations.

“We all have the same goal to track
and eradicate cancer as much as possible here in the Cayman Islands,” said Ms
Yearwood.

The registry is a database that
will contain details of types of cancer, diagnoses, timelines, treatments, when
and where the disease was contracted, as well as other elements.

Milena Conolly, who has worked at
the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and Fidelity Bank, has been hired as the
cancer registrar. She was chosen from a large pool of applicants, including 13
Caymanians, and begins work on 1 May.

She will be responsible for helping
to select the hardware and software of the registry database and for collating
and interpreting the collected data.

Medical director of the Cancer
Society, Dr. Sook Yin said Ms Conolly had a challenging task ahead of her.

“This is a very special job.
Somebody has to be very confidential, yet be able to extract information, has
to have a mind that is astute in terms of detective work because they’ll be
coding by numbers and seeing doctor reports, but also if a family member just
tells them that somebody has got cancer, they’ve got to ensure the person has
not been reported twice,” she said.

Dr. Yin said the registry would
enable a better understanding of the prevalence of the disease, so that there
could be better planning and screening processes.

“Hopefully, this cancer registry
will not be the only registry of chronic diseases. We also think we can do the
same thing for heart disease and diabetes and hypertension,” she said.

The registry was also made possible
by a US$50,000 donation from law firm Walkers which will be spent on the database
hardware and software. The Breast Cancer Foundation is also working with the
Cancer Society to help fund the salary and cost of training the new registrar.

Dr. Greg Hoeksema of the HSA, said
that people have been asking him since he came to Cayman about the prevalence
of cancer here.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a
good database, so by hiring a cancer registrar and establishing a cancer
registry, we will begin to understand if there are particular cancers that have
a higher prevalence here in the Cayman Islands. And if we see that, then we
have to ask the next logical question, that is why would that be?” he said.

He said the HSA would work with
private physicians to encourage them to get their cancer patients to come
forward with their information to be added to the database.

Anyone living on the islands,
Caymanians or expats, who has been diagnosed with cancer in the past five
years, is urged to contact the Cancer Society so that information can begin to
be added to the database.

People who have moved to Cayman,
who have recovered from cancer or been in remission over the past five years, should
also come forward to be registered.

All information will remain
confidential, officials said.

For more information, contact the
Cancer Society on [email protected].

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