PORT OF SPAIN – Researchers from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the United States Centers for Disease Control have found that the rates of death from cervical, 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 recent study also reported that prostate cancer, a common cause of death among Caribbean men, accounted for 18 percent to – 47 percent of cancer deaths, while lung cancer accounted for five per cent to 24 per cent – and was the second highest cause of cancer deaths among males.
Breast cancer, the main cause of cancer death among females accounted for 14 per cent to 30 per cent of cancer deaths. This is up to two times higher than the USA.
CARPHA’s executive director Dr. James Hospedales said a large number of deaths from these types of cancers was very alarming since they were mostly preventable.
“Breast cancer can be detected early and treated successfully. Cervical cancer is perhaps the most preventable through education, vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV), screening, early detection, and treatment,” he said.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Caribbean, according to the study, published today 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 was 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 were 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”, Hospedales said. Prevention measures include avoiding the use of tobacco, limiting alcohol use, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, keeping a healthy weight, and being physically active.