The Cayman Islands Cancer Society (CICS) recently donated a CUROS Vacuum Assisted Biopsy machine (CVAB) to the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA). In 2006, the CICS raised funds to form the Cancer Care Fund, which ultimately brought the first digital mammogram machine in the Caribbean to the HSA.  Every time a mammogram is performed, a portion of the medical fee is put towards the Cancer Care Fund which is used for machine upgrades, staff training, and the procurement of cancer related equipment. Therefore every time a woman gets her mammogram at the HSA, she is helping the CICS contribute to the Cancer Care Fund.Since the fund was established the Cancer Society has been able to donate a camera, a microscope, wet prep set up for PAP smear examinations and now the donation of the CVAB. The cost of the CVAB machine was $55,065, all of which was paid for by the Cancer Society with funds from the Cancer Care Fund.The CVAB machine allows for patients to have an ultrasound and biopsy performed at the same time. The machine also provides a less invasive way to take biopsies of any tumor. This procedure can be done on any tumor that is visible to the eye and does not disfigure the breast.The machine uses a needle that is inserted under the tumor. The needle makes an incision and takes a biopsy of the tumor or lump. When the needle is moved around it takes multiple samples. In some cases the biopsy can actually remove the entire tumor.From the initial visit to receiving the results this process can take about 2 weeks. This is much shorter than before the CVAB machine was available. Patients would have to wait for an available time and day for the operating room in order to have the biopsy taken. Now the CVAB allows for the procedure to be less invasive, without the use of general anesthetic and is usually completed within a half hour to an hour. CVAB procedure allows patients to return to work the same day.In the two months that the CVAB machine has been in use, there have been twelve biopsies, of which three were diagnosed with cancer. The CVAB machine allows for faster turn around between sampling and results, leading to earlier diagnosis. The CVAB machine also provides a more accurate sample and picture with no distortion.The teamwork between the HSA and the Cancer Society has proven to making the process at the Cayman Islands HSA more efficient, stated Dr. Bogle-Taylor.  The HSA identifies specific cancer related equipment that is a priority to improving healthcare and when the equipment is necessary, funds from the Cancer Care Fund can be used to make those purchases.  The Cancer Care Fund has also been utilised to purchase a new microscope with digital camera for the HSA laboratory, so pap tests can be performed creating electronic images, which can be used with medical files as needed.Mammograms, MRIs and ultrasounds are some of the other tools used in cancer diagnosis. The CVAB machine has already, and will continue, to help with early diagnosis of breast cancer.

Photo Caption: Cancer Society Board members and HSA doctors commemorate new biopsy machine with plaque.