Conquering cancer together

Everyone has their part to play when fighting the battle against cancer. This was the one clear message that came out of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society’s first ever Cancer Awareness Day, supported by St Matthews University School of Medicine and Celebrations, which took place last November at the Grand Cayman Marriott. The previous night had seen top specialists in their field give fascinating presentations to Cayman’s medical profession, giving attendees the latest insights into the treatments for cancer. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull was in attendance at both events and reports.

The Cancer Society’s Cancer Awareness Day was a free event was open to the public and gave visitors the chance to hear from visiting cancer specialists as well as local experts about how everyone can reduce their risk in developing cancer. 
Dr. Joe Ostroski from Baptist Health South Florida gave a fascinating presentation on ductal carcinoma in situ, the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. Ostroski stressed the importance of self examination by women (and men – though not nearly as common, men do develop breast cancer as well) on a monthly basis. Despite recent moves in the US, Ostroski also said that yearly mammograms and ultrasounds for women over 40 were also a must.
Patricia Collins, also from Baptist Health South Florida, also spoke about the importance of regular screening and prevention when she presented on cervical cancer. Annual Pap smears and inoculation for young girls against the HPV virus (which is known to cause 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases) were both important measures women could undertake to prevent cervical cancer.
Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer, especially in sunny climates such as the Cayman Islands. Ostroski’s presentation on the subject was therefore extremely important for residents in Cayman.
Ostroski said it was vital for individuals to get a buddy – a spouse, partner or good friend – to check out their skin all over, from head to foot, to ensure moles had not suddenly developed or existing moles had not changed shape, colour or size.   Non malignant skin cancer, he said, was not generally life threatening but still needed careful watching by a doctor, so early detection was extremely important.
Visitors to the Cancer Awareness Day were able to assess their own risks against cancer with the help of St. Matthews students, as well as chat with cancer survivors who each had their own important story to tell. Booths were well manned by such entities as Miami’s Baptist International Hospital, each with a plethora of information on hand to update and educate the public as to the cause, treatment and prevention of cancer.
Christine Sanders, then-COO of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society was delighted with the wealth of knowledge brought into the event by such leading experts in their field, from both home and abroad, and says: “We were very pleased to see so many people come out wanting to increase their knowledge of cancer-related issues. If we have saved just one life as a result of someone learning something at this event then we have been successful at making a difference.”
Cayman Islands Cancer Society Dr. Sook Yin says: “All those who attended had a very positive experience and I urge all who missed last year’s Cancer Fair, mark your calendar for this year. Event goers had the chance to listen to the latest breakthroughs on cancer treatment and cutting edge technology on cancer diagnosis presented to them by oncologists who are top in their field of breast, prostate, brain, skin, blood and thyroid cancers. They were able to interact directly with these specialists to have all their questions answered and fears addressed on all cancer related matters.”
Yin states that. Curling who is an oncologist from Bahamas shared a study that was done in Bahamas that concluded that breast cancer presented at a much earlier age in the Bahamian female population.
“This finding is significant as it changes the age group of screening in breast cancer that will now be recommended to the women in Bahamas and they will not be following the North American guidelines as this is based on North American own population study,” Yin confirms. “Local studies like this have a direct impact on screening guidelines that is more specific to the local community. This again emphasises the urgent need to establish the Cayman Islands Cancer Registry. The CI Cancer Society is more committed than ever to forge ahead with this and we hope that the public will fully support us as this will be the foundation of accumulation of our own local cancer statistics that will help us in planning our oncological services which will satisfy our specific needs.”
Cayman’s medical profession as well as students at the St Matthews School of Medicine enjoyed an informative evening at the University when three top cancer specialists in their field gave enthralling presentations into the latest developments within their own practice field of the disease. Dr. Stephen Fein, specialist in hematology and oncology at Baptist Health South Florida discussed the varying different types of blood cancers, while Dr. Avelino Piñon, consultant prostate cancer specialist at Baptist Health, South Florida talked about the latest minimally invasive treatments for prostate cancer.
Dr. James Akinwunmi, visiting consultant neurosurgeon with Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital spoke about the challenges of brain tumour treatment.

The Journal will be looking in more detail at the topics under discussion in future editions.



From left, Cayman Islands Cancer Society’s COO Christine Sanders; Dr. Greg Hoeksema, medical director of the Health Services Authority; Health Minister Mark Scotland; Dr. Avelino Piñon; Cayman Islands Cancer Society’s Medical Director Dr. Sook Yin; Dr. Stephen Fein; Dr. Senthil Kumar, Dean of Students at St Matthews Medical University; Dr. James Akinwunmi