The Caribbean lags behind global
trends of increasing survival rates for breast cancer victims, but growing
availability of screenings and a high awareness of the disease means Cayman is
fighting to buck those trends, Minister of Health Mark Scotland said at a
ceremony to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
As part of the effort to combat
breast cancer, the Ministry of Health, the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, the
Health Services Authority, and the Public Health Department are setting up a
local cancer registry to monitor the prevalence of breast cancers and other
cancers. A cancer registrar, Milena Conolly, has been hired and is working on a
computerised database that will track cases in Cayman.
In helping to launch the Lions Club
of Tropical Gardens’ annual awareness campaign, Mr. Scotland explained that the
cancer registry will supply valuable information and statistics to health professionals
to help combat the disease.
“As a region, our mortality rates
are high primarily because of inadequate screening and treatment management,
according to [a 2002 Pan American Health Organization] report, and even today
it is evident that much work remains to be done.
“Fortunately for Cayman, and
specifically for the Ministry of Health, we are privileged to have the support
of dedicated groups of volunteers such as you Lions Club of Tropical Gardens
stalwarts. By increasing women’s access to frequent screening, you are
definitely in the vanguard of the effort to tackle one of our region’s key
concerns,” Mr. Scotland said.
Breast cancer is the most commonly
diagnosed cancer, with more than 1.3 million new cases a year being diagnosed.
“Providing cancer patients and
their doctors with current information and statistics will help them select the
best treatment options,” Mr. Scotland said in reference to the registry.
“Furthermore, pointing to environmental risk factors and high risk behaviours
unique to our population will also help health professionals and volunteers
focus their efforts on meaningful prevention strategies.”
However, the minister cautioned
that despite the work done locally on raising awareness of breast cancer, it
should not be assumed that everyone knows how to detect it or how to minimise
“Clearly there is still much left
to learn, understand, and do, but I am thankful that we are working to reduce
the problems together. Breast cancer is indeed a powerful adversary, but it can
never defeat compassion,” he said.
He commended the Lions Club for
continuously highlighting the disease and for supporting patients and their
families, and also thanked other partners and organisations for their work in
combating breast cancer.
Among local organisations that mark
breast cancer awareness month with fundraising and other events is the Breast
Cancer Foundation, which hosts an annual gala dinner. This year, the event will
be at the Ritz-Carlton on Saturday, 16 October and tickets are still available.
Call 949-4822 for details.
The keynote speaker will be Barbara
Padilla from the popular TV show, America’s Got Talent. Ms Padilla was
diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and subsequently underwent several rounds of
chemotherapy and radiation treatments while she was in college.
The Lions Club of Tropical Gardens
will hold breast cancer awareness meetings at the Bodden Town Primary School at
7.30pm, Thursday, 7 October, and at the Savannah Primary School at 7.30pm,
Tuesday, 12 October.
Another popular annual event that raises money
for breast cancer research is the Brenda Tibbetts Lund 5K Memorial Run/Walk,
which starts at 6am, Saturday, 9 October at the Public Beach on West Bay Road.