The Barbados Cancer Society (BCS) says while there has been a rapid increase in new breast cancer cases coming through its programme, there has been no Stage 4 diagnoses in the last five years.
There have also been no deaths recorded by the programme from 2018 to December 2022 among those diagnosed at stage 0-1 with the disease.
Medical Coordinator of the Breast Screening Programme (BSP), Dr Shirley Jhagroo, has attributed the absence of stage four patients to the ongoing awareness programme.
“I am not saying that there hasn’t been any, but at the Breast Screening Programme we have not had a new patient at stage 4. And this I honestly attribute to awareness, and the walk (Walk for the Cure) has made the difference.
“Unfortunately there was an increase in the number of new cases diagnosed per year, from 26 in 2018 to 72 in 2022. I don’t know if we can attribute this to the new [screening] machine, up and running since September last year, that we are getting new patients with earlier diagnoses,” Dr Jhagroo said.
Her disclosures were made on Thursday as she delivered remarks at the presentation of funds raised through the CIBC FirstCaribbean 2022 Walk for the Cure activities to the BSP at the Hilton Hotel.
Dr Jhagroo said that the programme continues to be self sufficient and noted that the funds raised from the walk along with donations, go towards purchasing and maintenance of equipment. The money also subsidises investigations such as breast biopsies, mammograms and ultrasounds.
The doctor said that the education and awareness campaign to save lives through early detection has made a difference in the attendance numbers at the clinic, as is evidenced, by the number of self-referred patients moving from 15 per cent 10 years ago, to almost 40 per cent in 2022.
She said over 125 000 clients have benefited from the services of the BSP, thanks to the Walk for the Cure fundraising activities.
“Over the past two decades there has been a continuous upgrade in breast imaging technology. We have been very fortunate to have the resources to keep up with this changing technology. The programme is serviced by a $1.2 million state-of-the-art 3D mammogram with special features for imaging male breast. . .,” she said.
Dr Jhagroo said that in 2023, the Breast Screening Programme intends to add a stereotactic attachment to the present 3D mammogram machine. The special attachment, one of the best currently on the market, will allow the BSP to carry out breast biopsies.
“We are hoping that this will improve our early detection. Its cost at the moment is over $170 000. So thank you so much CIBC, we are going to have that.
“I have sort of ordered it, but the [manufacturers] are coming in to meet with us to be committed and for us to give our deposit and give them details of what we really want,” she said.
FirstCaribbean’s Director Retail Banking Channels, Michelle Whitelaw, indicated that in addition to the 2022 Walk for the Cure activity, the financial institution also embarked on a series of fundraising activities which raised BDS$200 000.