Thursday 9 April, 2020

Cayman cancer registry registration on the rise

Registration rates for the Cayman Islands’ cancer registry have been consistently increasing each year.

This is the result of cancer survivors and patients being regularly referred to the registry from more than a dozen medical professionals and cancer organisations across the island since data collection efforts first began.

These increased data collection efforts come after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) launched an initiative aimed at improving cancer surveillance data collection worldwide.

The purpose of the initiative is to help countries increase their capacity to register cancer cases in order to better understand cancer trends in the region. The IARC, an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations, plans to make such improvements by creating six hubs, including one in the Caribbean.

While there have been more entries in the registry, the Health Services Authority (HSA) and the Cayman Islands Cancer Society (CICS) would like to continue to encourage survivors and patients to come forward to help to create a more comprehensive cancer registry.

“A cancer registry is critically important to the future of healthcare in the Cayman Islands. As a country, we need to understand cancer trends so that we can do everything possible to mitigate cancer risks,” explained Dr Sook Yin, Cayman Islands Cancer Society Medical Advocate for the Cancer Registry.

Dr Virginia Hobday, Medical Director of Cayman Hospice Care and Vice Chair of the Medical and Dental Council shared Dr Yin’s sentiment in regards to the need for an effective cancer registry. “The medical profession worldwide is united in their opinion that the healthcare of future generations will be seriously compromised without the data that cancer registries provide,” she noted.

Cancer registries contribute to scientific research into causes and cancer management. They also provide evidence for policymaking and the monitoring of programme implementation. 

The immeasurable benefits of a comprehensive cancer registry are why the WHO and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) are strongly encouraging all nations to take necessary steps to ensure they have reliable cancer surveillance data.

According to the WHO there are over 100 cancer registries worldwide (inclusive of the United States, Canada, England and Australia) which have implemented automatic reporting to their cancer registries.

Currently, there is almost no information available regarding cancer trends in the Cayman Islands. There is no data showing the number of people diagnosed every year, which cancers are most common, or whether there are environmental factors which may be contributing to cancer incidence. However, as the number of registrants steadily increases the HSA and CICS hopes that these questions and more will be answered through the information available in the cancer registry.

The cancer registry continues to receive letters of endorsement from local and international organisations and individuals committed to fighting cancer. Among these are the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society, the Chief Medical Officer for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and Baptist Health. In their joint letter of support, Dr Joseph Ostroski of Baptist Health South Florida and Dr Ana Viamonte Ros of Baptist Health International both stated, “Cancer data collection is important for researchers, policymakers, health professionals, and the public in order to understand and address the cancer burden of a community more effectively.”

The data collected by Cayman’s national registry is based on recommendations set forth by the WHO and stored in a database designed by the international public health agency, but customised to fit the needs of the country’s unique community.

All information included in the registry is anonymised before being entered into the database, which means names are not included. Access to the registry database is restricted. The public does not have access under any circumstances; only the Cancer Registrar has access.

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