A frank and open discussion must be had and should be continued if the fight against gynaecological cancers is to successful and bring women’s cancers to an end.
Dr Vikash Chatrani, Country Head and local champion of Globeathon Barbados, now rebranded Gynathon Barbados, signalled the warning during the first ever Intimate Chats with Sagicor showcased on Facebook Live on Sunday, June 23, 2019.
Dr Chatrani sat with blogger and stylist Mikhaila Farier, one half of Hey Vajayjay – Shaz Richards, entrepreneur Gina Cummins, radio personalities Paula Jackman and Gaynelle Marshall as well as Communications Officer Tracy Moore, and Assistant Vice President Carolyn Shepherd of Sagicor Life Inc. to further raise awareness about the impact of gynaecological cancers in Barbados and the marquee fundraising event, the Sagicor Gynathon – the annual 5K run and walk happening Sunday, June 30, 2019.
In explaining the five gynaecological cancers – ovarian, uterine, cervical, vaginal and vulva – he noted that while it was important for women to get their Pap smear, also called a Pap test, such a test only screens for one of the five cancers – cervical.
He therefore warned, “When we talk about preventing cancers, Pap smears can prevent certain cancers, the HPV vaccine can prevent certain cancers – that’s easy. But knowing your family history is another preventative measure because if you know your family history you can be more in tune, get screening more often and from a younger age. But overall, and most importantly, you must pay attention to your body. This is the biggest thing. So, if you know that something is off… get it checked out.”
He also pointed out that uterine cancer is the number one gynaecological cancer in Barbados and warned persons of menopausal age in particular, that should their period return, they should get it checked out.
“When you go through menopause you are not supposed to get back a period. Periods do not come back! If your periods come back, that is an abnormal bleed – you need to go see your doctor. The womb is like a tomb – it keeps it [cancer] inside so if we can do the test and find it early, we can get a good cure.”
He also offered a message for those apprehensive to get tested and/or receive an ultrasound for screening for other gynaecological cancers, especially if the cancer is part of their family history: “When you think of bad news, you usually think of something wrong. But when I think of bad news, I think that you have picked up something early and you can cure it, or you can treat it. Knowledge is power. You take that power and take control over your body – that is how you must look at it, not as bad news but something that I can treat, get rid of and prevent it from taking control of me. You need to own it.”
“There are five areas below the belt – pay attention to your body, know your body, visit your doctor, get screened and live a healthy lifestyle – when I say that I mean eat well, exercise and do the right things. That is the best advice I can give you for the prevention of cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer, vulva cancer and all cancers,” he added. (PR)