GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer should not be a death sentence for anyone, anywhere.
Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. It is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to organs.
Communities around the world recently observed World Cancer Day (4 February). The WHO says that at least seven million lives could be saved over the next decade, by identifying the most appropriate science for each country situation, by basing strong cancer responses on universal health coverage, and by mobilizing different stakeholders to work together.
WHO highlights a wide range of proven interventions to prevent new cancer cases. These include controlling tobacco use (responsible for 25% of cancer deaths), vaccinating against hepatitis B to prevent liver cancer, eliminating cervical cancer by vaccinating against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), screening and treatment, implementing high-impact cancer management interventions that bring value for money and ensuring access to palliative care including pain relief.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. Around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index (overweight), low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
The Collective Prevention Service (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), says based on information from the WHO, between 30 to 50 per cent of cancers can currently be prevented by avoiding risk factors. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated adequately.
CPS advises the community to adjust or avoid key risk factors which can significantly reduce the burden of cancer. These risk factors include: tobacco use including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco; being overweight or obese; unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake; lack of physical activity; alcohol use; sexually transmitted HPV-infection; infection by hepatitis or other carcinogenic infections; ionizing and ultraviolet radiation; urban air pollution; indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.
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