GENERAL surgeon at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland, Dr Lincoln Cox, is encouraging Jamaicans with possible cancer symptoms not to put off seeking medical attention. This, he said, will improve their chances of survival if they get a positive diagnosis.
Speaking at a recent Jamaica Information Service ( JIS) ‘Think Tank’ at the agency’s regional office in Montego Bay, St James, Dr Cox said several people are dying unnecessarily from cancer because of a gripping fear of being diagnosed with the disease.
“What I find is that cancer victims tend to suffer in silence. We have a culture where death and morbidity is feared, and that fear grips people and that fear drives people not to turn up to doctors when they have a problem. When we talk about cancer, the fear of it causes patients to present late, and when they present late the outcome is worse,” he pointed out.
However, Dr Cox is assuring Jamaicans that the Ministry of Health and Wellness has specialist teams at hospitals to ensure that all cancer-related needs are met, emphasising that early diagnosis is key to treating cancers successfully.
“[We want] people to understand that cancer is not a death sentence, because we have a whole group of medical specialists who are employed by the Ministry [of Health and Wellness] to systemically deal with cancer. However, the later they present, then the worse the outcome,” he informed.
In the meantime, Dr Cox is raising fresh concerns about the increasing number of younger Jamaicans who are being diagnosed with cancer in Westmoreland.
He noted that many of these individuals are seeking medical attention when the disease is at an advanced stage, which, he said, is cause for concern.
“One of the things that I have noticed since I have been at the hospital is that cancer has been affecting the young in our population — those who are in their reproductive years and those who would be at the peak of their working days. They generally say, young is less than 50, but we are seeing patients who are in their 20s and 30s,” he said.
Dr Cox hailed the Westmoreland-based MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation for its drive to inform, educate and support cancer patients in the parish.
“MistyBlue Cancer Care wants to improve the health education within the parish [of Westmoreland] for people not to fear death or fear cancers anymore, because one of the things when you hear about the big C is, it’s a death sentence,” he said.
The foundation will spearhead several teleconferences to highlight statistics and trends relating to cancer in the parish. These will be streamed on various social media platforms during the second Wednesday of each month from August to December, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.