Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. February 4, 2017. The large number of deaths from breast and cervical cancer in the Caribbean is very alarming, since cervical cancer is largely preventable, and breast cancer can be detected early and treated successfully.
Executive Director, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr C. James Hospedales said, “Common modifiable risk factors that contribute to the development of cancers include tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.” He also stated that, “There is strong evidence that a person’s risk of developing cancer can be substantially reduced through healthy lifestyles. A reduction in modifiable risk factors will contribute to a decrease in cancer cases, and as a consequence, deaths and costs from the disease in our Region.”
This year, and through 2018, the theme for World Cancer Day (WCD) is “We can. I can” focusing on how everyone – collectively and individually – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. The 3-year campaign which started in 2016, outlines actions that communities and individuals can take to save lives by achieving greater equity in cancer care and making fighting cancer a priority at the highest political levels.
Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the Caribbean, where rates of death from cervical cancer, breast, prostate and colon cancer are 2 to 9 times higher compared to the United States. Dr Hospedales said “Cervical cancer is perhaps the most preventable, yet a recent study by CARPHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 16 of the 18 countries for which data were reported, cervical cancer accounted for 4.5%–18.2% of cancer deaths.”
CARPHA encourages persons to adopt healthier lifestyles to prevent cancer. Here is what you can do now to reduce your risk of cancer:
- avoid the use of tobacco
- limit alcohol use
- keep a healthy weight
- get sufficient physical activity
- increase daily intake of fruits and vegetables to 5 or more servings per day
- participation in screening programmes is strongly encouraged for prevention of cervical cancer and early detection of breast, colon and rectum cancer
- get vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis B
So, on World Cancer Day, are you acting responsibly to prevent cancer?
“We can”, collectively, inspire action, create healthy environments, build a quality workforce and shape policy changes for cancer prevention. As an individual “I can” understand that early detection saves lives. I can support others, and I can make healthy lifestyle choices.
Act NOW to prevent cancer! We can…I can!