4 February 2022
Today, Friday 4 February 2022, is World Cancer Day – used to raise awareness of Cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. In November 2021, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) launched a ‘Closing the care gap’ campaign to focus on closing the care gap for the next three years until the year 2024.
On St Helena, Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Busisiwe Ramaru, leads the Chemotherapy Day Unit at the General Hospital, set up in 2019, which has been able to offer cancer patients, treatments on-Island. Treatments on-Island are limited, however it has been a major development when referring to ‘closing the care gap’.
St Helena is one of very few British Overseas Territories that enables cancer patients to be treated locally allowing them to remain in a familiar environment with the support of their families and friends. In the event that treatments are not available locally the patients are then referred overseas. The Chemotherapy Day Unit receives advisory support from Oncology Units in South Africa and the UK.
On St Helena during the period 2013-2021 the most prevalent cancers were cervical, breast, prostate, lung and rectal cancer, the less prevalent cancers on-Island are colon, pancreas, gallbladder, bile duct, testicular, ovarian, bladder, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and renal cancer. Individuals are encouraged to raise their awareness of the risks associated with cancer, to allow them to lead a lifestyle that could help to reduce their risk of cancer. General risk factors for cancer include:
- Older ( Not to be considered literal as cancer affects persons of all ages )
- A personal or family history of cancer
- Using tobacco
- Some types of viral infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Specific chemicals
- Exposure to radiation, including ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Busisiwe has been working alongside the local Cancer Awareness Group to help promote cancer awareness locally.
“Cancer treatment requires a collaborative approach from the community, the private sector and the Health Services Directorate. The Chemotherapy Day Unit is supported by an Oncologist based in South Africa who prescribes the treatment and supported by Dr Kamar on the Island. We will continue to strive in ensuring that we provide the community with warning signs to ensure cancer is detected and treated early. Fighting cancer together the Saint Way.”
4 February 2022