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World Cancer Day is commemorated internationally on February 4 every year. The theme for this year’ is “I am and I will- Together all our actions Matter” with the aim to raise awareness about cancer, and to encourage prevention, detection, and treatment of the debilitating disease.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, with statistics recorded in 2018, showing the number of deaths at 9.6 million worldwide. According to World Health Organization (2020), 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer and 70 % of the death occur in low to middle income countries. Thirty percent of the deaths have been attributed to one’s behavior and diet such as high body mass index, tobacco, and alcohol. WHO (2020) has further noted that the most common cancers globally are seen in the lungs, breast, the colorectal area, the prostate, the skin and the stomach; whereas the common deaths are seen in the lungs, in the colorectal area, the stomach, the liver, and the breast. Guyana recorded 6,518 new cases of cancers for the period 2003 – 2012, for an overall cumulative incidence rate of 867.7 per 100,000 population. Of these, 3,956 (60.7%) were females and 2,561 (39.3%) were males, giving a female to male ratio of 1.5:1.
The cumulative incidence rate for females was 1,054.4 while for males it was 681. The 15–39 year age group recorded the second highest percentage of incidence (11.5%). The common cancers seen in Guyana are breast, cancer of the cervix, the prostate, the uterus, the colorectal area, the stomach, the lung, the liver, the ovary, and the lymphomas.
However, when cancer develops, this orderly process in our bodies breaks down. Carcinogens enter the individual’s body and are transported to the cells. As cancer development takes place, a cluster of cells usually grows into a detectable tumor. Subsequently, the cancer cells move away from their original positions and start invading adjacent and other tissues.
Though a non-communicable disease, cancer is of public health concern and has a significant economic impact on people’s lives and the health care system of the country. Therefore, it is important to have early detection and treatment so as to save lives.
The observance of World Cancer Day on February 4 annually, continues to be a reminder of the constant fight by advocates and worldwide agencies. The APNU/AFC Coalition will continue to support initiatives that are geared towards the reduction of cancers in Guyana. The APNU/AFC will walk in solidarity with our loved ones who either lost their battle to cancer or are currently fighting the debilitating effects of it. Let us all support each other, as together we can unite our energies to prevent our loved ones from becoming victims of cancer. To the brave cancer survivors, we salute you.
We call on other Political Parties, the Government, and the Private Sector to recognize the need for training of health professionals and allied health workers in early screening and detection of cancers at the micro- and macro level.
Can we do it? YES we can; together all our actions matter. Each person must commit to the theme: engage in moderate physical exercise; adopt healthy eating practices; and simply partake in the moderate use of things which are good and abstain from things which are detrimental to our bodies. Therefore, let us all work assiduously to do all that is necessary to prevent all forms of cancer.
Dr Karen Cummings
Member of Parliament