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Feb 4, 2014

World Cancer Day

Today is recognized globally as World Cancer Day and for the rest of the week a campaign will take place to increase cancer knowledge and eliminate misconceptions about the deadly disease. Locally, the Belize Cancer Society started activities under the theme, “Cancer Facts Can Save Lives-Power Up!” The society says is geared up to educate the public on cancer prevention and control strategies. President, Laura Longsworth, says that the disease has been increasingly affecting both men and children, and that the leading cervical cancer is the leading cancer among women.

 

Laura Longsworth, President, Belize Cancer Society

Laura Longsworth

This year, the World Cancer Day focuses on debunking false beliefs about cancer. Locally we look at it and we have developed our own theme which is similar to debunking myths. We are saying that cancer facts can save lives-power up. If you have the right information about cancer, then you are empowered to do something about lifestyle changes that can certainly help you if not to prevent, but certainly to detect cancer early. We are all focusing on cervical cancer. We have a problem with cervical cancer in Belize; that is the leading cause of cancer among women in Belize. It is happening to younger women and most of the time when these women reach either the doctor or the treatment center in Dangriga, they are in their second or third stage which means that they really are very sick. In terms of numbers, we know that the numbers are now showing up in the Belize health information system and that system is capturing the data on cancer, but so far it is still only data from the public sector, not the private sector. So we need to continue to work to ensure that the mechanism is in place; the registry is efficient to capture all that data. Absolutely and as a matter of fact, we want to do special segments on men’s health this year to include the types of cancer that affects men. But certainly prostate cancer is a problem for men in Belize. But not only prostate cancer, for men and women, cancer of the lung and cancer of the colon; these are really serious things. And when you think about men…I think when you look at the numbers, you see more women in the system than men, but that doesn’t mean that men are having cancer. Men are not going to the doctors. We have a problem and any health system would tell you that the majority of the clients are women. Men are hard to…you will never find a man just going in for a wellness check, just for the sake of a wellness check. And so those are some of the challenges. Another myth is that there are no signs and symptoms of cancer. For some cancers that is true, but if you adapt a certain kind of attitude towards it—for example cervical cancer which is going to be a huge focus for the Belize Cancer Society and also our partners in health—this year. Cancer of the cervix, you don’t want to wait until you have symptoms. You want to go in and have your pop smear because that is what you can do to really address the issue of the health of the cervices even before you develop a cancer. So any changes can be treated.”

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