World Cancer Day 2018More than one hundred participants braved the Sunday morning sun to participate in the Public Health Ministry’s Teal Walk in observance of World Cancer Day, held under the theme “Prevent Cervical Cancer, get screened today”.Beginning at the Parade Ground in Eve Leary Georgetown at the crack of dawn, the entourage proceeded south to Church Street, then east to Vlissengen Road, then north to Lamaha Street, and west to Camp Street before turning north on Camp Street to conclude the exercise back at the Parade Ground.Participants of the “Teal Walk”With chants of, “Early Detection, Save Lives!” from the participants as they walked, it was a clear indication that the Public Health Ministry’s main focus is to encourage women to get screened.According to Junior Minister of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, who addressed the gathering following the walk, it is everyone’s duty to ensure that women in Guyana get screened for cervical cancer.Noting the importance of women being educated on the deadly disease, the Minister said, “Women must be educated about the symptoms of cervical cancer, and seek medical advice if experiencing any such symptoms. Women must also know where to find support”.Dr. Cummings revealed that, in 2014, the Public Health Ministry had conducted an assessment of cancers that occurred in Guyana over a 10-year period. Following that assessment, statistics showed that cervical cancer was the second most common cancer among women in Guyana.The organizing team behind the event“According to the data obtained, the average incidence rate of cervical cancer in Guyana is 46.9 per 100,000. The highest incidence and prevalence rates were found among Afro-Guyanese women. Unfortunately, the data demonstrated that approximately two-thirds of all of the cases of cervical cancer occurred among women below age 60 years, and the highest percentage occurred in the 15-to-39-years’ age group.The data demonstrated that a mere 4 percent of the cervical cancers that occurred among the Guyanese women over the 10-year period were diagnosed at stage one, whereas the majority of the patients were diagnosed at stage 4; which contributed to an average annual mortality of 27 per 100,000,” Dr. Cummings said the statistics showed.Dr. Cummings admonished that young girls should take the vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). She noted that the vaccine programme is part of the Public Health Ministry’s plan to reduce the morality rate of cervical cancer.The Minister explained, “The goal is to achieve a minimum of 95% coverage of the target population. We must encourage mothers to follow through, so that we can achieve full coverage, thus potentially reducing cervical cancer in the at-risk age group… The Ministry of Public Health will be targeting girls aged 9-16 years as recommended by the Technical Advisory Group on Vaccination”.Dr, Cummings emphasized that even though the HPV vaccine is important, screening is imperative, and is not to be replaced by the vaccine, as both are equally important.Concluding, Minister Cummings further encouraged: “Screening is for people without symptoms as a preventative measure… The importance of raising awareness about cervical cancer cannot be overstated. Therefore, each of us must do our part in ensuring that we encourage our women to get screened for cervical cancer, so that early detection can result in early pretreatment and/or the prevention of the onset of cervical cancer”.