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Low Income Radiation Therapy Centre needed for the medically underserved, underinsured

The Guyana Cancer Foundation is calling on the Government to establish a Low Income Radiation Therapy Centre to subsidise costs for persons who struggle to afford the vital treatment.

The Guyana Cancer Foundation and multiple organisations are hosting a range of activities throughout October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

These activities serve to raise funds that go towards the Foundation’s efforts to support breast cancer survivors and fighters, and provide access to screening services including mammograms and sonograms for high risk women including the medically underserved and underinsured.

Bibi Hassan, Founder of the Guyana Cancer Foundation, says there is a need for a Low Income Radiation Therapy Centre, noting that there is only one at the privately owned Guyana Cancer Institute.

“We need one that can cater for our low income people because people can’t afford the price to pay for radiation therapy. Radiation therapy starts at $550,000 up. It can go up to $1.3 million. Where will these poor people get the money to do radiation therapy.”

External beam therapy (EBT), also called external radiation therapy, is a method for delivering a beam or several beams of high-energy x-rays to a patient's tumour.

These high energy x-rays can deposit their dose to the area of the tumour to destroy the cancer cells and, with careful treatment planning, spare the surrounding normal tissues.

Some cancer patients are expected to receive more than $1M in treatment, which Hassan says many cannot afford.

“Some of them, they get depressed and they come to my organisation and I try my best to help them but sometimes I can’t because of the funding you have to get to help them with that money. Sometimes they can’t event raise $300,000 to go. The Government normally pays $200,000 and $200,000 can’t help. Even though it’s something it can’t help for the poor people.”

The US Centres for Disease Control and Protection defines breast cancer as a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. It can lead to lumps in the breast or underarm (armpit), thickening or swelling, irritation or dimpling of breast skin, redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast, pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area, nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood, any change in the size or the shape of the breast or pain in any area of the breast.

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