Beating Cancer By Beating Down The Cost

PRESS RELEASE – Positive health outcomes are the result of early diagnosis, treatment and management of cancer. It is for this reason that The Cancer Centre Eastern Caribbean (TCCEC), located in Antigua, was launched in July, 2015 and offers high-quality oncology services.

A branch of this centre was opened six months ago at the Tapion Hospital and offers oncologic consultations and systemic therapy. Radiation treatment is provided at the Cancer Centre in Antigua.

During a networking session held on Saturday, October 7, Minister for Health and Wellness, Mary Isaac, indicated that the Cancer Centre in Antigua is a child of the OECS with the governments in the OECS agreeing to support the centre.

“I am saying this to say we need to raise awareness about the Cancer Centre in Antigua,” Isaac said. “I do not think that sufficient people are embracing the centre and, like Dr. Jules said, there are some people who ought to be in this room who are not here right now and we need to get that information to these people so that they, too, can subscribe to the existence and the sustainability of the cancer centre.”

TCCEC is a state-of–the-art regional cancer treatment facility fully equipped with the latest technologies in cancer treatment which allow for precise targeting and treatment of malignant tumors while avoiding surrounding normal tissues. Dr. Thomas McGowan is the Medical Director at TCCEC.

“With the technology, the 3D technology, it is incredibly sophisticated,” Dr. McGowan said. “We can sculpt the dose so tightly. We can sculpt shapes like a donut, a high dose and a little bit in the middle that has no dose. We can sculpt a high dose around a spinal cord, treat a high dose to the bone and a low dose to the spine.

If you think about that, the difference between sculpting and painting, it would be the difference between what we used to do is to be able to paint one colour on a wall. Now we can do the equivalent of painting a Picasso and it’s that much more complex. It’s almost not the same treatment.”

Chairman and Executive Director of TCCEC, Dr. Conville Brown, stated that despite the high cost of cancer treatment worldwide, the centre has worked out special packages for OECS governments.

“We all know that if you are going to get radiation therapy and you were going to travel to the north and probably not as far north as Canada, you can very well spend what some people will call house money for radiation therapy. In other words, the cost of radiation therapy, in some instances, can cost you up to US$100,000 or more. One of the commitments that we made all the way in 2009 and we’ve stuck by to this date is that we would get that cost down for the OECS patient, particularly the less fortunate ones and the ones that would really fall under the preview of the governments. That’s why we were able to cut the cost down to US$10,000 per patient, which is nowhere in the region of house money and is more in the region of used car money,” Dr. Brown explained.

The OECS will soon roll out a complete inventory of health facilities and resource across the entire OECS to more strategically map out where centres of excellence in healthcare should be located.

Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules, also challenged insurance companies to provide greater support as the OECS grapples with this cancer pandemic.

“Where you go should not be just a matter of relying on government to provide those finances; the insurance companies have to kick in. Because if we have a Caribbean Centre of Excellence for cancer care, The Cancer Centre Eastern Caribbean, then everyone who suffers from cancer (and) has health insurance, that insurance should recognize that centre for facilitating treatment,” Dr. Jules said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) places cancer as one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Cancer was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly one 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.

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