More Barbadian women die from below the belt cancers
An increasing number of Barbadian women are dying from gynaecological cancers, leading health professions to step up efforts to start a conversation on the prevalence of the disease.
Gynaecologist, Obstetrician and Gynae-oncologist Dr Vikash Chatrani did not give figures, but said the worrying trend was the reason behind the annual Globe-athon, which will be held this year on September 11, to raise awareness of a number of “below the belt” cancers, which include cancer of the ovary, uterus, cervix, vagina and vulva.
“These cancers, when added together, the number of deaths they cause per annum is of the same magnitude if not more, that is attributed to the number one cancer for women in Barbados.
“That means more women are dying because of these gynaecological cancers. It causes the same grief, if not more, because these cancers, they all don’t have good screening tests and the disease is not widely spoken about,” Dr Chatrani, who is also the team leader for Globe-athon, told yesterday’s launch at the Usain Bolt Complex.
He stated that the fundraiser, now in its fourth year, had been slowly helping to encourage discussions on such issues, noting that “our reproductive organs must be valued and honoured and spoken of with pride and dignity”.
“Women are coming forward, women are visiting their gynaecologists, and asking for that below the belt check… They’re asking for their pap smears to detect any abnormalities on their cervix; they want their ovaries, their uterus, their vulva and their vagina checked.
“They are remembering the signs. The message is getting out. They are remembering the symptoms to look out for that may be a sign of pre-cancer or early cancer,” the Gynae-oncologist said.
Patricia Brathwaite-Marshall, Vice-President of Group Insurance at Globe-athon sponsors Sagicor Life Inc said there was still a lot more work to be done to effectively address the problem of gynaecological cancers.
“Just knowing that a pap smear can lead to early detection and corrective treatment can mean the difference between life and death for your mother, your sister, your wife or yourself. We want to live in an era when cancer becomes a disease of the past,” she said.
President of the Barbados Cancer Society Dr Dorothy Cooke-Johnson told the launch that funds from previous Globe-athons had contributed to the construction of a new Gynaecology-Oncology Diagnostic and Treatment Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which was opened last December.