Choose Prevention. Make Healthy Choices to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 3rd February, 2018. Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer related deaths among Caribbean men, with lung cancer being the second main cause. Breast and cervical cancer are the leading cancers in women and have a significant impact on women’s health in the Region. The death rates for cancer of the breast, cervix, stomach, colon and prostate are 2-9 times higher in the CARPHA Member States compared to the USA, research at CARPHA has shown.

“The good news is that a large proportion of cancer deaths in the Region for both males and females can be prevented through primary prevention and early detection. Breast cancer can be detected early and treated successfully. Cervical cancer is the most preventable through vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV), screening, education, early detection and treatment,” said Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director, Caribbean Public Health Agency, in observance of World Cancer Day 2018.

The theme for World Cancer Day is “We can. I can.” “We can”. On February 4, CARPHA joins its Member States and the rest of the world to promote how everyone, individually and together, can help reduce the burden of cancer, focusing on prevention by reducing risk factors, and improving access to early diagnosis and adequate treatment. “We can” seeks to collectively, inspire action, create healthy environments, build a quality workforce and shape policy change. As an individual “I can” understand that early detection saves lives. I can support others, and work to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of 10 cancers – bowel, breast, uterine, ovarian, pancreatic, stomach, kidney, liver, advanced prostate and gallbladder cancers. Research has shown that adopting healthy lifestyle choices can contribute to the reduction of cancer cases and consequently deaths and costs from the disease in the Region.

“Choose prevention – take advantage of screening services offered by your community health clinics, health practitioners, and cancer organisations. Everyone can take steps to reduce their risk of cancer by choosing healthy options especially quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, keeping physically active, maintaining a healthy weight and choosing healthy food and drinks”, said Dr Hospedales.

CARPHA is committed to working with key partners to reduce the burden of cancer in the Region. The Agency is partnering with CARICOM agencies and international institutions to impact trade agreements and influence the availability and access to healthy foods. As a part of a collaboration with CDC, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and other global partners, CARPHA houses the Cancer Registry Hub for the Caribbean. The Hub aims to strengthen cancer surveillance by building capacity for cancer registration in the region through technical support, training, networking opportunities and collaborative research.

We need to act now to reduce our lifetime risk of cancer “We can. I can”!