Dr Flloyd Carter performs a colonoscopy.
By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
As March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and colon cancer is the third most common cancer that affects both men and women in the Bahamas, the Gastroenterology Clinic (TGC) is seeking to increase awareness with special presentations to church and community groups, as well as to the medical community.
Dr Flloyd Carter, medical director of the Gastroenterology Clinic, said the incidence of cancer is too high in Bahamian society. He said one of the obstacles in fighting cancer is the knowledge gap amongst the community. Filling that gap is one of his missions. Everyone, including healthy individuals, should be screened for colorectal cancer at the age of 45, he said. This would potentially save lives.
The Gastroenterology Clinic, which has its main location in the Family Medicine Centre on Blake Road and an additional site in the Village Road Professional Centre, aims to provide comprehensive, competent, compassionate gastroenterology. The clinic specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive tract diseases, including abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, blood in stool, gas, reflux, liver diseases and difficulty swallowing.
“TGC performs colonoscopies for colon cancer screening. We offer consultations at both of our locations. We perform endoscopies and colonoscopies at the outpatient endoscopy unit at the Family Medicine Centre,” said Dr Carter.
A native of Barbados and a proud graduate of the University of the West Indies, Dr Carter obtained his gastroenterology training at the McMaster University in Canada. He serves on the consultant staff in gastroenterology at Doctors Hospital. He is a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology and the American College of Physicians, a member and current vice-president of the Association of West Indian Gastroenterologists, and a devoted member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Dr Carter’s beliefs inform his compassionate care for his patients.
He told Tribune Health a presentation named “Faces of Colon Cancer” hosted by the Cancer Society of the Bahamas and TGC was just one of awareness efforts held so far.
“The feedback has been great. However, we recognise that there are obstacles to every eligible Bahamian getting a colonoscopy at the recommended age of 45. Knowledge and perception is one obstacle and we continue to preach that colonoscopy is both safe and painless in expert hands. Complications of bleeding and injury of the colon are fortunately rare. The Bahamas is fortunate to have five well-trained gastroenterologists that can perform this procedure,” he said.
“The second obstacle is cost. This procedure is perceived as expensive. During this month we reduce the price by 50 percent to reduce this obstacle. However, when you compare a colonoscopy once every 10 years to other screening tests done every year (multiplied by 10), you find the costs are comparable. However, cost will remain a large obstacle.”
He said the game-changer is getting people to realise that a colonoscopy is a valuable preventative measure, one that can an actually prevent the development of colon cancer. Dr Carter said this is not an exaggeration, as 90 per cent of colorectal cancer deaths are preventable.
“Everyone can reduce their risks for colorectal cancer right now by doing four simple things: exercise – exercising regularly reduces risk by 25 percent; achieve a healthy weight – reduces risk by a further 25 percent; eat healthy (high-fibre, low-fat diet), and get screened at the age of 45; earlier if there is a family history,” said Dr Carter.
Doing your part to create awareness, Dr Carter said, is a responsibility of every gastroenterologist. Nothing, he noted, is more disheartening than diagnosing colon cancer when you know it was likely preventable.
“TGC plans to use our Facebook and social media platforms to educate the general public on gastrointestinal disorders and provide valuable tools to get ‘Gut healthy’. Everyone deserves a healthy gut,” said Dr Carter.