Achievements in 2002 paved way for health sector
- Ramsammy By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
January 21, 2003

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The Cancer Registry is now collecting data on the different types of cancer in Guyana and with the Georgetown area complete the registry is covering other regions.

From the data collected so far women are most commonly diagnosed with cancer of the breast and cervix while cancer of the prostate is the type most common among men.

In an interview with Stabroek News, Chairman of the Cancer Society Board, Dr Walter Chin, said that initially they had begun collecting data from the various city hospitals before moving to laboratories in the George-town area.

“We are now extending the data collections to the West Demerara Hospital... And we are also collecting from the New Amsterdam Hospital.” Plans are in train to extend data-collection throughout the country.

According to Dr Chin people in the hospitals are now aware of the Cancer Registry’s efforts to collect data following a campaign to inform them, the sending out of forms and the briefing of staff members of the records departments.

But he said the registry still has difficulties since the information provided sometimes sparks a lot of questions. “That is because one, we are not sure of the diagnosis and secondly we are not clear of the site of the lesion, which specific area of the body the cancer is located.” He added that there are occasions when the doctor cannot precisely state where the cancer had started. He added that the registry had seen some peculiar diagnoses which don’t sound or seem to be correct or “which some of us haven’t heard of before...”

Asked about continued reports about persons with cancer being misdiagnosed by doctors, Dr Chin said that he has no doubt that cancer cases are going to be missed. He said most medical practitioners miss a case from time to time.

However because of the increased public awareness, these mistakes are becoming less frequent.

“People are so aware now of cancer, that people ask searching questions when they visit doctors. At least that is what happens with me: they may not directly say, `Do I have cancer?’ but the way in which they frame their questions or how they state what is wrong with them it is as if they are asking... In some cases they are going to tell you, ‘I am afraid, or my family has a history of cancer.’”

Dr Chin said the data confirms that cancers of the breast and cancers of the cervix are common in women with breast cancer more prevalent.

According to Dr Chin they have seen from a preliminary figure a decline in the number of deaths from cervical cancer. “If that is confirmed I would think that is an extremely good sign.

I don’t think we would be able to confirm (this) until probably later this year when we would have hopefully got all the figures from all the areas.”

Any decline would indicate that women are becoming more aware of the disease. He said pap smears if done on a regular basis could detect the cancer which is easily curable.

The data also shows that women suffer from cancer of the lung while for men the prostate, stomach and lung are the three main areas.

“That has been the main thrust of the cancer registry: to try and get data. And a lot of people have been asking the registry for information which is also one of its functions.. to disseminate information on cancer in Guyana.”

According to Dr Chin the registry has a fairly good relationship with all the labs in Georgetown: “I mean it has taken well over a year before we could develop that kind of relationship, with not only the labs but the records department of all the hospitals.”

The registry is not yet stored in the Cancer Treatment Centre building located in the compound of the Georgetown Public Hospital.

Dr Chin said the building still needs fittings and fixtures. He said they are hoping that the building will be ready in the first quarter of the year. Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Rasammy told them that work would begin on the building this month.

The building has been up for a while and Dr Chin said that they are worried since an unoccupied building deteriorates much faster than one that is occupied.

“I hope the next time you speak to me it will be from that building.”

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