TT Cancer Society chairman Dr George Laquis is once again calling on Government to establish a cancer registry and make the disease a reportable one. Laquis made the call on Thursday at the launch of a national education campaign on cancer awareness at Republic Bank Limited’s Park Street, Port of Spain branch.
He said one of the biggest problem is there is no statistical analysis on trends in cancer. He said the Society gets data from death certificates in public institutions but there is a need to have a registry of people who are dealing with the disease.
“What is the right number? We don’t know if we are creating benefits or harm when we screen. The only way we can know is through statistics. What is a relative risk ratio? You cannot estimate the relative risk ratio of a screening procedure or any medical procedure without proper statistics. We don’t have proper statistics in Trinidad and Tobago.
“That is not good enough. We don’t know what is going on in the private sector, we don’t know what has happened before, we don’t know what treatment the patient had. Was the treatment effect or not? We don’t know. Without that, if we don’t know what is the data there, we are not going to know where to spend the money,” Laquis said.
This year, the society is continuing its collaboration with Republic, through the launch of the educational initiative themed, “I Care Because Cancer Doesn’t”, which would be taken into both primary and secondary schools for the next six months.
The programme is aimed at educating students about lifestyle changes that have the potential to prevent cancer and save lives, to promote prevention by screening for early detection and to get young people to buy into the message and become advocates against cancer. Laquis said a very worrying static shows TT has the highest cancer mortality in the Caribbean. He said cancer is the second leading course of death in the world, while the first is heart disease and the third being respiratory diseases. He said half of all cancer is preventable and can be treated successfully.
Laquis revealed that the Society will soon introduce a test called the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), and if it is done once every year they can discover or pick up bleeding in the stool. “It is a very accurate test, if we do pick up blood in the stools we can recommend the person to do further treatment. If we can get that done, we can reduce the incidents of colon cancer by about 50 to 60 percent. That will be remarkable.”
He said the cancer society survives on the help from the private sector donations and for a very long time on government subsidies. However, Laquis said they are going on three years since they receive any money from the government.
Laquis said the cancer society has evolved and is hoping they can get land from the government to construct a bigger and modern home to treat their patients.