-comprehensive programme for prostate cancer to be rolled out
-introduction of brachytherapy being touted; mammogram machines to be installed at Linden, West Demerara and NA hospitals
THE Ministry of Health this year is aiming to expand cancer screening, testing and care services across the country to further reduce the morbidity and mortality rates here.
This was disclosed by Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony on Friday at a World Cancer Day health fair held at the ministry’s Brickdam headquarters.
During brief remarks, the minister said that over the last few years, the ministry has been looking more closely at chronic non-communicable diseases and ways in which these can be reduced across the country.
Further to this, he added that the most prevalent cancers in Guyana are breast, cervical and prostate. As such, he noted that this is something that they have to pay significant attention to, and while these are not the only three cancers that exist, their prevalence requires much more attention.
It was then that the minister noted that when looking at the latest report in terms of mortality, more persons have died from prostate cancer in Guyana than any other cancer.
As such, he indicated that this year, the ministry will start looking at how they can roll out a comprehensive programme to tackle this.
He said: “Men are a little bit more difficult to work with because a lot of men don’t come to clinic and very often, they might have signs and symptoms of enlargement of [the] prostate, which then maybe later you can get prostate cancer, but they tend to ignore these signs. Only when it’s really dominant then they will come to the clinic, by which time they might have a lot of other complications.”
The minister indicated that they are looking to start an awareness programme to further get men to understand and be aware and get screened early as part of this process.
Meanwhile, concerning the treatment of cancers, he noted that currently a lot of the treatment that is carried out is surgical in order to deal with metastasis which is the spread of cancer cells from the place where they first formed to another part of the body.
However, he noted that brachytherapy is currently unavailable in Guyana and as such, a gap exists in the treatment that can be provided. Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation that uses radiation to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours.
“And so, this year we are working to introduce brachytherapy in Guyana, so we will start the process and hopefully we can get brachytherapy introduced here in Guyana,” he said.
Regarding breast cancer, the minister said that while the ministry can do mammograms at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), they are looking to expand this aspect.
Dr Anthony told the gathering that the intention is that during this year, they will add three additional mammogram machines to what currently exists. One will be installed at the hospital in Linden, while the others will go to the West Demerara and New Amsterdam Hospitals.
With these things implemented, the government hopes to improve screening and care for cancer across the country.