PAHO has called for increased access to cancer treatment

Commemorating World Cancer Day, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has urged to intensify cancer treatment and prevention services to incline down the new cases.

PAHO World Cancer Day
PAHO World Cancer Day

Caribbean: Commemorating World Cancer Day, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has urged to intensify cancer treatment and prevention services to incline down the new cases. If nothing is done, the number of cases could rise by nearly 60% by 2040.

The subject of this year’s World Cancer Day, hosted by the Union for International Cancer Control, is “Close the Care Gap” (UICC). The day is an opportunity to bring people together in the fight against cancer around the world.

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After cardiovascular disease, cancer is the second largest cause of mortality in the Americas. According to the Global Cancer Observatory (Globocan), 4 million individuals will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020, with 1.4 million dying. By 2040, more than 6.2 million individuals are anticipated to be diagnosed with cancer if nothing is done.

“We cannot move backwards in the fight against cancer because of the epidemic,” stated PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. “Having access to health services allows us to diagnose cancer early and efficiently treat it,” she said.

Non-emergency services, such as cancer screening and diagnosis, have been seriously harmed around the world as a result of limits and closures, as well as the diversion of resources to combat the COVID-19 epidemic. Existing inequities in cancer care are predicted to worsen as a result of this.

Furthermore, major disparities in access to cancer care existed throughout the Americas prior to the epidemic, resulting in poor health outcomes. While the survival ratio for juveniles with cancer in North America surpasses 80%, it is only 45% in Central America and the Caribbean.

Access to cervical cancer screening, prevention, and cure is also inequitable. Cervical cancer screening rates in the region range from 7% to 89 percent, with mortality rates ranging from 2 deaths per 100,000 women in Canada to 19 deaths per 100,000 in Paraguay.

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Cancer can be avoided

Vaccination (against hepatitis B and papillomaviruses) and lowering the prevalence of known risk factors, such as tobacco use, can prevent 30-50 percent of cancer cases (which causes 25 percent of cancer deaths), Risk factors include a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables and heavy in red and processed meat, as well as alcohol intake, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, and workplace exposure to carcinogens.

“Accelerating prevention is critical to avoid new instances,” said Anselm Hennis, Director of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at the Pan American Health Organization. “And it must be built on government-wide measures, with law, regulation, and budgetary policies linked with actions to change individual and community behaviour,” he added.

In the Americas, PAHO/WHO is pushing three worldwide campaigns aimed at reducing the cancer burden. These programmes attempt to prevent and treat cervical cancer, improve children cancer survival, and avoid breast cancer, a recurring cancer among women.

Cancer in the Americas – Forecast through 2020*

  • People aged 69 or younger accounted for 57 percent of cases and 47 percent of fatalities.
  • Prostate cancer (28.6%), lung cancer (11.7%), colorectal cancer (10.2%), and bladder cancer (10.2%) are the most often diagnosed cancers in men (5.9 percent ).
  • Breast (30.7%), lung (10.3%), colorectal (9.6%), and uterine cancers are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women (6.4 percent ).
  • Lung cancer (20.6 percent), prostate cancer (14.5 percent), colorectal cancer (10.6 percent), pancreatic cancer (7 percent), and liver cancer (7 percent) have the highest mortality rates in men (6.6 percent ).
  • Lung (18.4 percent), breast (17.5 percent), colorectal (10.6 percent), and pancreatic cancers are the tumours that kill the most women (7.2 percent ).
  • In the region, about 500,000 new cases of breast cancer were reported, with over 100,000 deaths from the disease.
  • In the Americas, 74,410 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer, with 37,925 dying.