(CMR) Members of the public will learn how COVID-19 has disrupted cancer care in the Cayman Islands, including delaying diagnoses and treatment, at a public forum hosted by the Health Services Authority (HSA) on Thursday.
The forum, which will be held in observance of World Cancer Day, will be held at the Wharf Restaurant from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
The HSA will also light up the Cayman Islands Hospital in lavender, the awareness color for all cancers, to commemorate the annual observance.
Organizers said the forum will be held under the theme ‘Cancer care during COVID-19’ and will delve into the response of the healthcare systems and cancer support groups' rapid reorganization of cancer services to ensure that patients continue to receive essential care while minimizing exposure to the coronavirus infection.
“In order to mitigate any problems and disruptions that have developed from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must first fully understand them,” said HSA Oncologist-Haematologist Dr Lundie Richards.
Dr. Richards said the forum was an opportunity to mobilize all relevant parties affected, from cancer care experts and support groups to cancer patients and the public, to discuss the impact holistically and transparently.
“In this age, we see patients and their families becoming more involved in health care decision-making, and this event supports this kind of participation. We can all work together to come up with better solutions for how to reduce the negative implications of COVID-19 on cancer care in the Cayman Islands,” Richards added.
The forum will feature presentations by cancer care experts of the Authority, including Dr. Richards, and a panel discussion and display booths of cancer support groups in the Cayman Islands, including the Cayman Islands Cancer Society (CICS), Jasmine, and Cayman Islands Cancer Registry.
“While COVID-19 may have had minimal impact on treatment since cancer patients continued their treatments at local hospitals including HSA under strict conditions to ensure their protection against the virus, there was a concerning reduction in screening and possibly diagnosis due to the lockdown,” stated Cancer Society Operations Manager Jennifer Weber.
Weber said that with cancer-related charitable organizations such as CICS at the forum, people would be able to get a clearer and broader perspective of the effects of this reduction, the challenges that may arise, and how everyone can work collaboratively to mitigate and manage these issues.
Patients, survivors, and attendees will also share their experiences and ask questions. One CME credit will be awarded to healthcare workers who attend.
The latest data from the Cayman Islands Cancer Registry (CICR) shows a 40% increase in registration for 2020 compared to the previous year despite the lack of registrations for April, May, and June, due to the lockdown.
“I hope that in addition to encouraging persons to resume recommended health practices such as getting screened, this World Cancer Day event will motivate people to join our national cancer registry so we can continue to collect this valuable data,” noted Cancer Registrar Amanda Nicholson.
“The registry is voluntary and completely confidential, and all cancer patients and survivors within the community are welcome to join. By sharing just a little bit of information about their diagnosis, they bring us closer to understanding what cancer trends look like in our country.”
Registration for the HSA World Cancer Day event is available on Eventbrite, ‘Cancer Care During COVID-19 – A World Cancer Day event’. Spaces are limited.