UWI Medical Researchers Advocate For Improved Cancer Care In Developing States

(CMC) – Two medical researchers from University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus in Barbados are sounding the alarm on the rising incidence of cancers in developing states.

Dr Natalie Greaves, clinician-researcher, lecturer in Public Health and co-chair of the colo-rectal working group for the African Caribbean Cancer Consortium (AC3), and Dr Cheryl Alexis, haematologist, oncologist and senior lecturer in Clinical haematology are advocating for increased education towards early identification and treatment of the disease.

Their advocacy follows publication of the latest report by the Barbados National Registry (BNR) entitled ‘Cancer in Barbados Report 2022’ from which the BNR gathers insights from clinicians and academics, who are members of its Professional Advisory Board on issues of high priority related to cancer care.

Dr Greaves notes that health education activities focused on the signs and symptoms of colo-rectal cancer is crucial. Further, she advocated for clinicians to educate clients on their options of minimally invasive screen test available in Barbados like “FIT-Testing” and M2pK kits – where the stool is tested for blood and altered DNA can be recommended even in the absence of symptoms.

Dr Alexis expressed her concern about the rising trend in breast cancer deaths reported in the BNR report, particularly since globally, breast cancer deaths are decreasing. She believes this may be due in part to the cost of investigation and treatments are a challenge for cancer patients without insurance.

A statement from the BNR noted the increased likelihood of a cancer diagnosis of individuals as they age, with many elderly persons possibly not having the financial resources and support they need.

In 2018, some 960 new cancer cases were recorded, marginally below the yearly average of 977 recorded between 2013 and 2018. Of the 2018 figure, prostate cancer was the most prevalent among men while breast and colo-rectal cancers (CRC) were most prevalent in women. For the latter, the incidence and mortality continue to be high.