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Feb 4, 2016

Statistics on Cancer in Belize

On this World Cancer Day, the news is not good. The Belize Cancer Society says the number of deaths due to cancer is staggering and it doesn’t include deaths by persons who seek treatment in the private sector. Close to two hundred persons died last year due the disease and about the same number of persons were diagnosed with cancer. The Cancer Society is encouraging men and women to think that “We Can, I Can Understand that Early Detection Saves Lives.” News Five’s Duane Moody got tested today and files the following report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

This mural on the wall inside the offices of the Belize Cancer Society holds the names of persons who have lost the fight against cancer. But it is no indication of the real number of persons afflicted with the non-communicable disease. Cancer is a problem—it is the leading cause of sickness and deaths across the world. In Belize, fourteen percent of deaths are due to cancer and the figures according to Nurse Laura Longsworth are damning.

 

Laura Longsworth

Laura Longsworth, President, Cancer Society

“2013, ‘14, ’15 each year, there are approximately two hundred new cases every year of cancers. That does not provide you with the prevalence and then of course you have cancer deaths and that can range anywhere from one hundred and sixty to two hundred deaths.”

 

While the data provided by the Ministry of Health does not include private sector patients or persons going overseas to get medical assistance, the leading cancers affecting men and women are clearly defined.

 

Laura Longsworth

“The data clearly shows what are the leading causes of cancer deaths and morbidity in Belize. For men it is prostate cancer and those numbers are high…they are as high as women and their leading cancer is cervical cancer. Both of them are very high. For men, of course long and digestive track cancers and women it is cervical cancer and breast cancer and the other cancers that are similar to men. So that’s our situation. And of course we have our children who have cancer and we know that just from tracking we have at least two new patients being diagnosed every month—give or take; it’s on an average—might be less, might be more. And so that exists. So cancer like diabetes, like hypertension, is a problem.”

 

Part of the campaign includes working along with other agencies such as the Belize Family Life Association to reach out to the community, encouraging men and women to get screening done. It’s a frightening experience, but it is confidential and private and takes little to no time.

 

Sharmane Garcia

Sharmane Garcia, PR, BFLA

“In light of World Cancer Day, we are pushing the papsmear screening and for men, they can come in and do their testicular checks or their prostate exams. One of the things I would like to do is applaud the men who have been accessing our services and encourage other men to come in and find out what’s happening with your health. Only you can take control of your health. We have several services ranging from the STIs, papsmear, prostate, urine exams…a compelte blood check. And we have centers in the different districts. We have in Dangriga, we have one in San Ignacio, Belmopan and Orange Walk. We also have the NHI clinic on Central American Boulevard. So if you are registered with NHI, you can access that service or you can come and sit here with the nurse and she could give you some counseling, offer some advice, offer some kind of method or service that you can access.”

 

While there is no known cause for cancer, President of the Cancer Society says that the public needs to become proactive.

 

Laura Longsworth

“What we have to do is get to work. The whole direction of non-communicable diseases, it is recognized that we need all of society to make an impact, to reduce the numbers of all those diseases that are being diagnosed and that are killing us. So all of society, all of government, all of us together, the media—you are here today—play an important role in addressing non-communicable diseases and particularly, cancer.”

 

The theme for the years World Cancer Day is “I can, We Can.” But the Cancer Society has adopted the theme, “We Can, I Can Understand that Early Detection Saves Lives.” Duane Moody for News Five.

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