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Transcript of the Online Discussion with The Jamaica Cancer Society

Topic: ReducingYour Cancer Risk

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:15:05 PM)
What exactly is a diet that will prevent cancer?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:15:05 PM)
It is not that it will prevent but reduce the risk. Primarily, a high fiber diet that is low in fat - especially vegetables like cauliflower and fruits. Cauliflower has a specific effect against the development of colon cancer.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:16:48 PM)
Well, is this a fact that cancer is passed throughout the family, that is, is there a certainty that a person will have it once it is present in the family?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:16:48 PM)
No. However, the risk does increase specifically only in the hereditary types of cancer e.g. some types of breast cancers not all.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:20:53 PM)
I have heard of so many individuals who have died of stomach cancer. Many of them have lived overseas at some point. Is any research being done as to what the correlation may be? Could it be the difference in food type and how are we educating our population?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:20:53 PM)
One of the associations in the past is smoked foods, so the Japanese have higher incidences of stomach cancers. One of the agents known to be responsible for stomach cancer is a bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori and this bacterium is responsible for other diseases such as gastritis peptic-ulcer disease. Residence overseas does not necessarily have an increase in the risk for the development of stomach cancer.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:21:59 PM)
Do we know the specific chemicals in tobacco that cause cancer?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:21:59 PM)
The chemicals in tobacco that causes cancer is tar and nicotine. There are other substances such as arcsine.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:23:30 PM)
Hi I have a relative that has lung cancer and it seems to be spreading upward. Why upward instead of downward towards other organs?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:23:30 PM)
Lung cancer can spread within the lung to the nose, in the chest or lymph gland, the brain, bone marrow and liver. So it is not the direction of the spread but rather the spread via the blood stream and lymphatic that the statement refers to.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:24:50 PM)
What about prostate cancer; what diet would reduce the risk of that?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:24:50 PM)
Diets low in fat will help to reduce the risk. However, screening at the appropriate age, which is 50 may identify the disease at an early stage.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:26:40 PM)
What type of research is being done on breast cancer in Jamaica? Are there research institutions other than the university that are engaged in cancer research?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:26:40 PM)
We have a Jamaica Breast Study and that study would include patients at the major institutions in Kingston and St. Andrew. We are trying to establish protocol with international institutions and it is being supported by Jamaica Reach to Recovery by facilitating special test on the tumor that will guide treatment.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:28:12 PM)
I have read a lot about the increase in oral cancer, however, while I was in Jamaica I heard nothing about it. Is it that Jamaicans do not have oral cancer? What is the cause of Oral cancer anyway?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:28:13 PM)
It is the same risk factors for those of the lung cancer and certainly we do have a significant number of patients with head and neck cancers which would include the oral cancers.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:30:42 PM)
Is it a trend for men to think that they are unable to be diagnosed with cancer apart from prostate cancer and if so... what can be done or is being done for more men to have themselves tested?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:30:43 PM)
We are doing our public education awareness on cancer. But, generally men do not avail themselves for testing and screening procedures and we hope that the by continuing this public education programme the trend will change.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:32:34 PM)
Is there any truth to the claims being made by researchers at NCU about the effect of Garlic in reducing the effect of cancerous cells?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:32:34 PM)
We have not see the published data so we are unable to verify the claim. However, some researchers at NCU have established that a particular substance call allacin in Garlic has a destructive effect on cancer cells and not on normal cells. However, further work is on going.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:33:27 PM)
I am a smoker how can I quit?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:33:27 PM)
It is recommended that you visit your doctor for medical advice, but it will also require your commitment to break this habit.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:35:52 PM)
What can be done to prevent oral cancer? I have heard of people having it on the tongue, which is more obvious and sometime quicker to detect.
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:35:52 PM)
Greater risk of developing oral cancer is those persons who put the lit part of the cigarette into their mouth. However, this is not a preventable cancer so if there are any unusual signs you should consult your doctor.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:37:43 PM)
First and foremost, I believe that the Jamaica Cancer Society should come up with a major fund raising event so that it will not have any problem in financing it major education campaign.
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:37:43 PM)
Thanks for the suggestion and we are presently looking at Relay for Life slated for June 7 and will hope that it will increase the awareness of cancer and raise funds for society.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:40:40 PM)
How does Jamaica compare to other islands on 1) the incidence of breast cancer and 2) mortality from the disease once detected. Is there a program that allows women without the economic means to have mammogram at a reduced rate or even free - if not, what do these women do?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:40:40 PM)
Jamaica is the only country that has a cancer registry so there are no other islands in the Caribbean with similar data that we can compare with. But regard to the mortality data we have just started doing it for Jamaica which is 53.5 per 100,000 over age 35 of the population. This means that more than half of the women over age 35 of breast cancer will die.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:41:40 PM)
How many cancers are there and which ones are the most serious?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:41:40 PM)
Persons who require mammogram can contact the Jamaica Cancer Society because we provide the means for screening.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:42:50 PM)
How should one do breast self-examination?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:42:50 PM)
Contact the Jamaica Cancer Society for a demonstration or your doctor because this procedure is a lengthy one that requires demonstration.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:44:03 PM)
Does fish and vegetables etc… generally assist in the reduction of the cancer process?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:44:04 PM)
Healthy low fat diet is beneficial for good general health including reducing cancer risk though it may not eliminate it all together.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:45:22 PM)
Can anal sex cause cancer?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:45:22 PM)
Yes, you can get Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It can be transmitted this way and this is a risk factor for anal and cervical cancer.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:48:10 PM)
I have not done a pap smear in four years. I am however not sexually active. Does it matter?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:48:10 PM)
Yes, it important to do regular Pap smear even though you are not currently sexually active. If you have ever had sex in your life you could still get cancer as you could have Human Papilloma Virus. Please remember that hangs in the cervix can develop over time despite the fact that you have stopped having sex. So the bottom line is that you need to do a pap smear.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:50:01 PM)
Between the ages of 20 to 30 in males having a lot of sex, can that person get cancer?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:50:01 PM)
Yes, you are more likely to get HPV if you have unprotected sex with a lot of partners. HIV, HTLV1, Hepatitis B are all sexual transmitted and all associated with the development of all different types of cancer.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:51:37 PM)
I have been diagnosed with having "prostatis" some 12 years ago, what is probability that I will develop prostate cancer at an early age. I will be 37 in May.
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:51:37 PM)
There is no special association between prostatis and prostate cancer. In general a long-standing infected process can lead to cancer. Infection is a common denominator of cancer.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:52:15 PM)
Is there a heredity risk with prostate cancer as well?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:52:15 PM)

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:53:39 PM)
I am a social cigar smoker; maybe one a week. I hear cigars are 4 times more damaging than cigarettes. Is this true?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:53:39 PM)
Yes, because there is no filter in the cigars so the persons smoking cigars receive all the toxins.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:54:40 PM)
My father died of prostate cancer…what is the likelihood that I too am prone to some kind of cancer?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:54:40 PM)
There is a genetic risk to prostate cancer so you need to be tested yearly after age 50. Remember early detection can save your life.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:58:39 PM)
I know that you have just begun collecting morbidity and mortality data on breast cancer, I am curious to know about the prevalence of breast cancers occurring in women under the age of 30 -- this occurs frequently among African American women with an aggressive form of the cancer occurring in these young women. Is this also the situation in Jamaica and are there any explanations for this?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:58:39 PM)
Women in their 30s accounts for only 3 percents of breast cancer cases. Therefore, women under 30 will account for less. Although, all suspicious lumps in the breast should be evaluated - patients under the age 35 with breast cancer tend to have more aggressive clinical course. The cause for this aggressive course is being evaluated.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:58:55 PM)
Can masturbation cause cancer?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:58:55 PM)

Question (Apr 14, 2003 7:59:59 PM)
Is Jamaica promoting a vegetarian lifestyle for its people. Meat consumption contributes (especially red meat) greatly to most cancers??
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 7:59:59 PM)
We will always encourage a well balanced healthy diet that includes animal protein and vegetables.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:00:35 PM)
Can one get cancer from drinking too much coffee?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:00:35 PM)
There is no strong evidence associating coffee with cancer.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:01:15 PM)
Hi I'm from the states. I would like to know does Jamaica have a Hospice program?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:01:15 PM)
Yes we do. We have two in Kingston, Hope Institute and Concie Walter.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:02:17 PM)
Are certain races more likely to get skin cancer, if yes which one?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:02:17 PM)
Light skin people exposed to the sun because they have less melamine than dark skin persons. The excess sun exposure is bad in general for everyone.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:03:28 PM)
What's Relay For Life and how can I get involved?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:03:29 PM)
It is a team event designed to raise funds while promoting the message that cancer does not necessary result in death. It will be held on June 7. You can contact the Jamaica Cancer Society for further information by calling 927 4265.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:06:11 PM)
Doc is there a lot of young people with cancer in Jamaica?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:06:11 PM)
There are some cancers, which affect the young more commonly than the elderly. For example, some acute leukemia's, adrenal tumors and kidney tumors. But there are not really a lot of young people in Jamaica that are affected, but it does vary within the age groups. Teenagers are more prone to get sarcoma but childhood cancers in general are uncommon.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:06:45 PM)
Can you get cancer from smoking nuff ganja?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:06:45 PM)
Yes they have the same toxin as the cigars.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:08:06 PM)
Do you think that people get cancer from some of the food we eat?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:08:07 PM)
Yes, some food especially smoked food and ingredients added to our food such as MSG, some types of curry, and spicy such as hot peppers can cause cancer.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:09:19 PM)
Why is it that second hand smoking is much more damaging then first hand?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:09:19 PM)
The person getting second hand smoke does not have the benefit of it being filter so they receive all the toxins contained in the smoke.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:12:03 PM)
How do you know when you have breast cancer?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:12:03 PM)
Lumps, changes in the breast, change in contour of the breast, bloody nipple discharges may all be signs of breast cancer which should be evaluated by a doctor. However breast cancer can only be confirm by a biopsy. It is important that women 35 and over even though they may not be having any symptoms do their first mammogram then. Thereafter an annual mammogram should be done after age 40.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:13:27 PM)
Is there any cancer studies in Jamaica that is done in collaboration with other countries (i.e., US, UK, Canada) to understand cancer incidence and prevalence, including obtaining an understanding of some environmental predictors of cancers, etc?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:13:27 PM)
There have been collaborative work with Lymphomas and Prostate Cancers and cancers of the cervix and studies with other cancers are being development.

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:15:07 PM)
I live in the United States. I attend a University in a small city, with the population of that of Jamaica. However, I have attend a quite of few fund raising activities that they have planned together with the major radio stations and television stations. These stations help get major celebrities together to help in the planning of the fund raising. I was wondering if there is something I can do as an ordinary citizen to help with these fund raising events?
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:15:07 PM)
Please contact the Jamaica Cancer Society at (876) 927- 4265 or visit our website

Question (Apr 14, 2003 8:16:23 PM)
Hi I have a friend that when she was 17 (now 33) found out she had Wilms tumor (a childhood cancer) & has never seen a doctor for a check up on that & doesn't know how to go about it since the hospital she was treated at was a children 's hospital. She received follow up chemo for it for 6 months.
Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:16:23 PM)
You say she is now 33 then she is likely cured and therefore does not need a regular check up.

Cancer Society Speakers (Apr 14, 2003 8:18:20 PM)
Thank you all for joining us for further questions. Please free to contact the Jamaica Cancer Society at 927-4265 or visit our web site at for more information.

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