By Leanne McGrath - View original article here >
Residents are being urged to sign an online petition calling for better access to cervical cancer screening across the Caribbean region.
Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre is one of more than 40 non-government organisations from across the region supporting the initiative, launched by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC).
The petition launched last summer with the aim of securing 50,000 supporters — but so far only 13,213 people have signed up, with just 40 from Bermuda.
Bermuda Cancer and Health and the HCC are now repeating their appeal for residents to back the cause to help women across the region.
“We have had many successes with the Caribbean cervical cancer electronic petition within some of our participating countries in terms of promotion of the petition, yet we have not reached our target of 50,000 and there is really no reason why we are not there, other than lack of capacity to promote the petition on an ongoing basis,” said HCC manager Maisha Hutton. “We would be grateful for support. We worked with the Bermuda Cancer Health Centre, which was one of the CCCEP founding NGOs, however despite this the numbers in Bermuda are still low.”
The initiative calls for Caribbean and some Latin American governments to increase access to affordable cervical cancer screening.
The HCC says more than 2,200 Caribbean women die of cervical cancer every year, with 95 percent of these deaths being preventable, and that cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Caribbean women.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 different types of HPV, many of which are harmless, but some can disrupt the functioning of cells in the cervix and trigger the onset of cancer.
“Access to healthcare is a basic human right,” the petition states. “Protect our mothers, wives and daughters.
“One of the simplest ways of controlling cervical cancer is the Pap test, yet in some countries only one in five women receive Pap tests.
“Among those women diagnosed with cervical cancer, 50 percent of these women have never had a Pap test.
“The Caribbean is among the top four highest sub-regions in the world with respect to incidence of cervical cancer and has the highest burden of HPV in the Americas.”
In Bermuda, cervical ties with colorectoral as the second most registered cancer among women, with 15 cases in 2012, according to the National Tumour Registry’s Annual Report 2013, the latest figures available. But the report notes that its figures cover registered cases and may not represent the actual number of cases — cancer reporting is not mandatory in Bermuda so statistics are based on the number provided by physicians choosing to participate.
Unlike some nations, cervical cancer screening rates are high in Bermuda and significantly above the OECD average, according to Bermuda Health Council’s Health in Review report 2011.
Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre recommends cervical cancer screening begin at 21, with women between 21 and 29 having a Pap test every three years. Women from 30 to 65 should have a Pap test and HPV test every five years.
“Feel free to call the Cancer Information Service on 232-2247. An information specialist can answer your questions and disseminate information for you,” said a spokeswoman for Bermuda Cancer and Health.
You can sign the Healthy Caribbean Coalition’s petition at endcervicalcancernow.org