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Cancer Awareness Month, May 2014.

Cancer Awareness Month 2014, is being observed by the Belize Cancer Society (BCS) throughout the month of May under the theme, "Cancer Facts Can Save Lives-Power Up!" In Belize City, activities were launched on May 4th with a Church Service which was held at the St. Mary's Church and officiated by Canon Leroy Flowers. Cancer Survivor Ms. Sharon Baird delivered an inspirational testimony on her spiritual journey during critical periods of cancer treatment.
Highlights of the month's activities are the visit of Professor Sir Trevor Hassell of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition May 7th-9th, a Health Care Symposium for Health Professionals on May 28th, and the Annual Cancer Walk which will be held on May 31, 2014. Educational sessions, community outreach activities and media presentations will be held by BCS branches throughout the country.
Cancer awareness month is intended to symbolically unite the community in the fight against cancer. A key goal is to eliminate misconceptions about cancer and educate the public on cancer prevention and control strategies. The Belize Cancer Society endorses global and regional initiatives designed to prevent and control cancer. We invite the Belizean Community, Government and Non-Governmental Organizations, Partners in health, those affected by cancer and their families, and other institutions to support the work of the Belize Cancer Society.

Cancer Facts:

  • In 2008, global estimates of cancer were 12.4 million with over 7.6 million deaths. A large proportion occurred in low and middle income countries. With an expected one per cent increase per year, it is projected that by 2030 the cancer burden will increase to 26.4 million new cases of cancer and 17.0 million cancer deaths annually (IARC, 2008).
  • In Latin America and the Caribbean America cancer is the second leading cause of death, with an estimated 480,000 deaths due to cancer in 2005 and overall cancer mortality rate of 107/100,000 (PAHO, 2008).
  • In the Caribbean breast cancer has been increasing with devastating increases in mortality rates in women in the Caribbean. Cervical cancer rates have also been increasing in the Caribbean with rates in the year 2000 of 35 per 100,000 populations which is said to be three times high than rates in North America (PAHO/WHO, 2011).
  • The highest rates of prostate cancer in the Caribbean are said to occur in Barbados with 55 per 100,000 and Belize with a rate of 35 per 100,000 (PAHO/WHO, 2011).
  • In Belize for the period 2007-2011 there were a total of 857 cancer deaths. Almost half of these, 418/857 (48.8%), occurred in persons less than 65 years of age-the active population. Males and females are equally affected in terms of mortality, with different forms of cancer, accounting for 436 (51%) and 421 (49%) of cancer deaths respectively (MOH, 2013).
  • In Belize, cancer of the cervix, breast, colorectal, and reproductive tract cancers are the most common cancers in women. Twenty seven percent of cases of cervical cancer were reportedly at Stage II at the time of diagnosis. Similarly, 29 percent of cases of breast cancer were at Stage III at the time of diagnosis.
  • For men, prostate, lung, stomach and colorectal cancers are the commonest cancers. Men and women are affected by other cancers of the digestive tract, lymph and blood systems.
  • Scientific evidence supports the claim that apart from genetic influences and other unknown causes of cancer, 80 per cent of all cancers are attributable to environmental, dietary, social and cultural and environmental risk factors namely: tobacco use, exposure to second hand smoke, diets in high in fat, processed foods, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, alcohol abuse and other factors.
  • Cancer can be a difficult topic to address, particularly in some cultures and settings. Dealing with the disease openly, can improve outcomes at an individual, community and policy level.
  • Early detection of cancer can result in successful treatment, improvement in quality of life and increases chances for survival.
  • There is a lot that can be done at the individual, community and policy levels. With the right strategies a third of the most common cancers can be prevented.
  • All people have the right to access proven and effective cancer treatments including medication for cancer pain, and other cancer care services.