The Cancer Registry told Cayman 27 the stigma surrounding cancer is one of the biggest barriers facing its cancer surveilance efforts.
While the Cancer Registry said registrations are on the rise, the full picture of the disease in Cayman is still unclear.
“Anywhere you go in the world there is stigma surrounding cancer, I think that is especially true in the Caribbean,” said Cancer Registrar Amanda Nicholson.
She said for many, cancer can be a scary topic that they are reluctant to discuss.
“If we are going to do everything possible in terms of cancer prevention we’ve got to be able to talk about it and to get data and understand really how it is impacting our community,” she said.
The registry has been making progress. Ms. Nicholson told Cayman 27 2018 saw a 20% increase in registration rates over the previous year. The Cancer Registry now includes 443 individuals, but she said more comprehensive information is needed.
“We have no idea of what percentage of cancers we’re capturing, it’s really difficult to say, but I think as we get a bigger pool of data, then we’re really going to be able to see what cancer trends look like,” said Ms. Nicholson.
“A lot of people worry that their information will not be kept confidential and that couldn’t be farther from the truth,” added Cancer Society Programmes project coordinator Catherine Ebanks.
She said better information can help the Cancer Society focus its efforts.
“Then we can look into preventative measures and that’s the most important part, catching it early and helping people get diagnosed early on so that it can be treated,” said Ms. Ebanks.
“Bringing it into focus is challenging and it’s going to take time especially with a voluntary registry,” said Ms. Nicholson.
Ms. Nicholson said while Rome wasn’t built in a day, increasing awareness and media exposure can help break down the stigma barrier.
The Cancer Society said breast cancer is the most commonly reported type of cancer, accounting for 36% of registered cases.
Colon cancer, cancers of the blood, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer round out the top five.