More Barbadian women are being diagnosed with uterine cancer, which has now taken over as the leading gynecological cancer seen here. Six years ago that spot was taken by cervical cancer.
The new head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr Vikash Chatrani, who revealed the development to members of the media during the launch of the 2019 edition of Sagicor Gynathon this morning, said the shift came about primarily because Barbados’ cervical cancer detection rates have improved.
“Our work has reduced cervical cancer. We are actually treating pre-cancers before they actually get to cancer so that has come down. But then lifestyle changes have affected our uterine cancers with the increasing incidence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
“Fat cells produce estrogen, estrogen works on the lining of the womb to thicken it, and this thickening can result in cancer.
“So when we talk about dealing with gynecological cancers on all fronts, what we are trying to do is increase activity, reduce the non-communicable diseases like obesity, and hopefully have an impact on our uterine cancer rates,” he said.
Also speaking during the launch at Sagicor’s Wildey, St Michael office, President of the Barbados Cancer Society Dr Dorothy Cooke-Johnson said statistics released in 2013 showed that 54 women suffered from cervical cancer, 42 from uterine cancer, and the remaining 45 from vulva, vagina and ovarian cancers.
“This comes up to about 140 cases every year, and that’s very close to the number of breast cancer cases each year. So the two of them are virtually paralleled. And typically with breast cancer, 140 women will receive a diagnosis and about 50 women unfortunately lose their lives annually from breast cancer.
“However, if you do look at the mortality from gynecological cancer, there are about 30 deaths from uterus and cervix, and 24 from the other female genital cancers added up, which comes to 54,” Dr Cooke-Johnson said.
Dr Cooke-Johnson said the funds raised through the annual Run/Walk Gynathon, which was previously called the Globeathon, have made a tremendous contribution to the screening and treatment of gynecological cancers in Barbados.
She said the biggest accomplishment has been the transformation of an unused space at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), for a Gynae Oncology Cancer centre, equipped with modern equipment.
“Vikash used the money to transform the space, with the QEH Board’s permission, with new beds, a specialist bed for immediate post surgery, special operating couches, colposcopy and cauterization and other equipment which the hospital cannot afford,” Dr Cooke-Johnson said.
Sagicor Gynathon is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 30 at the Bay Street Esplanade.
Dr Chatrani called on Barbadians to support the event, which he said goes a long way with helping to purchase new modernized equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of gynecological cancers, since funds at QEH were limited.
“The movement is working. Women are coming forward to get screened and are having their pap smears. Parents are consenting to the HPV vaccine; women are paying attention to their bodies, knowing what is normal for them. They are going to their doctors with questions,” Dr Chatrani said.
Dr Chatrani, also Globeathon’s Country Head, encouraged persons interested in attending the event to purchase their t-shirts from Cancer Society at Henry’s Lane, Collymore Rock, Cherish in Bridgetown, or from any Upbeat location.
Assistant Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Brand Experience, Sagicor, Carolyn Shepherd said the company sponsored the event, to focus on the health of women, because many people were affected directly or indirectly, by some form of gynecological cancer.
“These cancers are among the most common cancers among women according to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). This is extremely important to us at Sagicor Life because we need our staff and our customers to be well informed in order to protect themselves.
“We are also sadly aware of some of our staff who have been affected, and also whose mothers have been affected, and that is why we at Sagicor are very pleased to continue our association with this very important initiative,” Shepherd said.