JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Cancer Society is collaborating with 21st Century Oncology, the largest radiation service organisation in the US, to offer cancer treatment to patients in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.
  • The company has a complete range of radiation equipment and can offer treatment that is not readily available in the Caribbean, hence the partnership with the Society.
  • The Jamaica Cancer Society is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and November was observed as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, under the theme: ‘Life Is Too Precious to Go Up in Smoke’.

The Jamaica Cancer Society is collaborating with 21st Century Oncology, the largest radiation service organisation in the US, to offer cancer treatment to patients in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.

The company has a complete range of radiation equipment and can offer  treatment that is not readily available in the Caribbean, hence the partnership with the Society.

Radiation Oncologist with 21st Century Oncology, Dr. Sophia Edwards Bennett, told a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’ that accessing the services is very simple.

“It is initiated with a phone call that also serves as a free pre-assessment over the phone.  If the person wishes to continue beyond this point, then conversations will be held with the patient’s local doctor,” she noted.

The Oncologist said that a person wishing to access the services provided  by the company should contact the Jamaica Cancer Society, providing  full name, date of birth, diagnosis,  treatment received so far, treating physician (s) and email address.

Dr. Edwards Bennett further explained that there is the option of getting a free virtual expert second opinion, with no commitment to deal with 21st Century Oncology.

She highlighted new treatments offered by 21st Century Oncology for lung cancer, specifically Immunotherapy and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, which is a precise, focal treatment for stage 1 or early stage lung cancer.

In the meantime, the Radiation Oncologist urged persons to stop smoking, as  “quitting dramatically reduces the risk of lung cancer by 50 per cent.”

She also implored persons not to smoke while being treated,  as this affects how well the treatment works.

On the smoking of marijuana, Dr. Edwards Bennett cited a study which showed that the risk of lung cancer doubled for marijuana smokers who also use tobacco. She also noted that the risk of lung cancer was twice as high for men who combined tobacco and marijuana, which makes it harder to treat.

“Recent research reveals a compelling trend between smoking marijuana and the risk of lung cancer,” she noted, adding that the same carcinogen in tobacco that causes lung cancer is also found in marijuana.

“Marijuana smoking causes inflammation that leads to cell damage, it is associated with pre-cancerous changes in the lung tissue and it is known to cause immune system issues, possibly predisposing persons to cancer,” she added.

The Oncologist also cautioned persons about other factors that contribute to lung cancer, such as radon gas, an odourless, colourless gas, which is the byproduct of uranium and is found in soil and rocks; and workplace exposure to asbestos in older buildings.

She said the World Health Organization (WHO) recorded nearly 1.6 million lung cancer deaths worldwide in 2012, and that 80 to 90 per cent of lung cancers are caused by smoking tobacco.                       Dr. Edwards Bennett also noted that non-smokers have a 20 to 30 per cent greater chance of developing lung cancer, due to second-hand smoking, and advised spouses, children, relatives and social friends to be careful.

The Jamaica Cancer Society is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and November was observed as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, under the theme: ‘Life Is Too Precious to Go Up in Smoke’.