Published On: Mon, Dec 19th, 2016

Cancer death rates two to nine times higher in the Caribbean compared to US

james_hospedales5PORT OF SPAIN - In a recent study, researchers from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the rates of death from cervical cancer, breast, prostate and colon cancer are two to nine times higher in the Caribbean compared to the United States. Only lung cancer was higher in the USA.

The study also reported that prostate cancer, a common cause of death among Caribbean men, accounted for 18%-47% of cancer deaths, while lung cancer accounted for 5%-24% and was the second highest cause of cancer deaths among males. Breast cancer, the main cause of cancer death among females accounted for 14%-30% of cancer deaths; and are up to two times higher compared to the USA.

“The large number of deaths from these types of cancers is very alarming since they are mostly preventable. Breast cancer can be detected early and treated successfully. Cervical cancer is perhaps the most preventable through education, vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV), screening, early detection and treatment,” said Dr James Hospedales, executive director, Caribbean Public Health Agency.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Caribbean, according to the study, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). This is the first time that information on cancer mortality for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean is published in a prestigious peer review journal.

In some of its key findings, the study highlights prostate cancer as the leading cause of death among men of African descent from the Caribbean as well as in the United States and Africa. The researchers found that for both men and women, colon and rectum cancers are the third most common cause of cancer death in the Caribbean.

The leading causes of cancer deaths in the Caribbean can be reduced through prevention, screening, early detection, and effective treatment for cervical, breast and colorectal cancers.

“Research has shown that adopting healthy lifestyle choices can contribute to the reduction of cancer cases and as a consequence deaths and costs from the disease in our region”, said Hospedales.

Prevention measures include avoiding use of tobacco, limiting alcohol use, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, keeping a healthy weight, and being physically active.

Photo: CARPHA Executive Director, Dr James Hospedales

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