by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- National Cancer Policy is necessary to improve cancer management in Grenada
- Ministry advocates men get their prostates examined
- Women becoming more aware and seeking early screening for breast cancer
A National Cancer Policy which will guide the management and treatment of cancer among the populace is presently under consideration by the Ministry of Health.
It is expected to encapsulate the areas of healthcare such as reduction of cancer risk factors and promoting early detection, promotion of medical services to encourage early screening, improving access to diagnosis and treatment, and most importantly the improvement of palliative care by mitigating the suffering of patients.
Senior Medical Officer Dr Sonia Nixon said the creation of such a policy is necessary to improve steps in cancer management in Grenada. “There is the political will to develop a National Cancer Policy because cancer is ranked among causes of mortality in Grenada. So we really have to make sure that we do have an understanding as to how we prepare for screening and how we prepare for early diagnosis and treatment, so those are things that need to be specific in any cancer policy, and yes currently we do have access to care, for the most part, but you would want to make sure that it is standardised, accessible and structured.”
For the entire month, the ministry will be advocating for citizens to get early cancer screening in a bid to increase early detection. As part of the ministry’s extended programme for immunisation within its public health system, they have included the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine given to girls from the ages of 9 to 11 as part of efforts to prevent cancers in girls.
With regard to men, the ministry is advocating that they get their prostates examined and conduct prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood testing every year. For adult women, Dr Nixon said the ministry continues to ensure that vaccines are available
Since the designation of the month of February as Cancer Awareness and Prevention Month in 2018, the Ministry of Health has been on a campaign to effectively manage the upsurge in various forms of cancer among the populace.
“Hopefully we will be able to improve the services so that we can have more cervical screening in the community and we collaborate with the Grenada Cancer Society and I am sure people have seen the mobile unit so hopefully we can take that into all the little nooks and crannies of Grenada and get people who are not motivated to get screening, or for people whose schedule prevents them from seeking these services,” Dr Nixon said.
As part of the process of early cancer detection, particularly that of cervical cancer, the ministry launched its Cervical Cancer Screening Programme in 2018 with the more effective cervical cancer screening called the Visual Inspection Acetic Acid Testing (VIA). This form of testing is a visual examination of the uterine cervix after the application of acetic acid which coagulates the higher protein content found in the precancerous lesion in the cervical epithelium.
Dr Nixon said women are becoming more aware and are seeking early screening for breast cancer which is quite a noteworthy advance in the fight against one of the leading causes of cancers in women.
World Cancer Day was recognised on 4 February 2020, under the theme “I am and I will.”