The Ministry of Health is doing everything possible to fight and win the battle against cancer in Guyana starting with a myriad of strategies to assist the process.
At a press conference on Friday, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony noted that the cancer registry was updated and now has more accurate data.
There has also been significant improvement in turnaround time from biopsy to diagnosis.
Previously the results of a biopsy took approximately three months. This time has been reduced to less than seven days at the GPHC.
“We are going to introduce in the first quarter of next year telepathology, this is another project that we have been working with Mount Sinai on. We have already bought the equipment to do telepathology, we have started the renovation of a section of the Georgetown Hospital to accommodate this new lab and once that is completed we will install the equipment, we have already trained the staff of the hospital to be able to do telepathology and they would be directly linked to the Mount Sinai lab,” Dr Anthony stated.
Basically, high resolution images will be taken of biopsy samples which will then be forwarded to a pathologist at Mount Sinai hospital, and a diagnosis made, this will also help improve the waiting time for results.
Breast cancer continues to be a challenge in Guyana, and currently accounts for most of the cancer diagnosis locally.
“When we look at our stats for this year, breast cancer remains the number one cancer in Guyana. This year we diagnosed 161 persons with breast cancer…this is something we have to work more on in terms of reducing this burden and one way of doing that is we have to encourage people to get screened and get screened early,” he stated.
The ministry is working to get more women to do mammograms from 40 years and older or between 30 to 40 years, once they have a family history of the disease.
Genetic screening will also be done in the near future.
Three more mammogram machines will be added and placed at the New Amsterdam Hospital, Linden Hospital and West Demerara Hospital.
Cervical cancer is the second most prevalent cancer with 102 cases diagnosed this year, accounting for 11 per cent of cancers locally.
“There is a very cheap and effective method in preventing cervical cancer, that is HPV vaccination, unfortunately a lot of people are not taking the HPV Vaccine and the new guidelines from CDC is while from 9-15 years of age, you can now get a single dose HPV vaccine, if you are 16 years and older… you can get two doses at a six-month interval, and that can help prevent cervical cancer,” Dr Anthony noted.
Guyana has HPV vaccines in stock and these are available to the public free of cost, the ministry is hoping that more persons will do Vaginal Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA), PAP Smears and HPV Testing.
Prostate cancer seen an increase with 107 persons diagnosed this year.
In the new year a programme will be launched to deal specifically with prostate cancer.