World Cancer Day

The 4th of February of each year has been set aside as World Cancer Day, by the World Health Organization. It is a day to join in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones to cancer; a day to encourage those who are battling this Chronic Non Communicable Disease (CNCD); a day to celebrate with those who have survived cancer and a day to reflect on what we all can do to prevent this disease.
Cancer is one the top five main causes of death in St Lucia. It is a CNCD which affects persons of all age groups, though predominantly a disease of the adult population. In St. Lucia, cancers of the breast and cervix are the most common cancers in women, while cancer of the prostate is the most common cancer in men; but both sexes affected from cancers of the stomach, colon, lung and other organs.
The risk factors for cancer and similar to the risk factors of other CNCDs such as heart disease. Use or exposure to tobacco products has been deemed responsible for over 70% of cancers worldwide. Ingestion of carcinogens, hereditary factors and certain types of infection are also thought to be responsible for cancers. In women, it is believed that the majority of cancers of the cervix are due to infection by the Human Papillomavirus/ HPV.
Recognizing the impact of CNCDs such as cancer, the Ministry of Health will be embarking on a Behaviour Risk Factor Survey (BRFS) this year to identify and quantify the population’s risk to CNCDs. The results of this survey will inform our ongoing efforts toward a Health Financing Mechanism to implement Universal Health Care (UHC), thereby ensuring better access to health care for the general population. We are hoping that with the implementation of UHC in the coming years, persons who are diagnosed with cancer and other ailments will have no difficulty in accessing much needed care.
Persons are encouraged to adopt health lifestyles and make use of screening procedures such as the PAP Smear test for cervical; the digital exam and blood tests for prostate cancer and other screening procedures which are available at the Health Centers or any primary care provider. Women are encouraged to learn and practice regular monthly breast self examination.
The theme for World Cancer Day 2012 is “Together it is Possible”. Together, we can decrease the impact of cancers on our society.

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