Cancer is a leading cause of death globally and accounted for nearly 10 million deaths, which is around 1 in 6 deaths in 2020. This plague is not just a global problem but disproportionately affects lower- middle income countries like Guyana where the majority of deaths occur. In Guyana, cancer is among the five most common causes of death, the country’ s Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has said.
He noted that cancers of the breast, cervix, prostate and colorectal regions are too frequently a diagnosis here, many of which are in advance stages.
“In Guyana, cancer remains one of the most common causes of premature death and a significant challenge in our health care system affecting men, women and children. Sadly, this illness remains a taboo topic among Guyanese, with many persons having a sense of fear, shamed and hopelessness at the mere mention of the word CANCER, yet alone a diagnosis,” the Minister said in his World Cancer Day message today.
This year marks the final year of the World Cancer Day global theme “Close the Care Gap” which speaks to championing the call to fight against cancer by raising awareness on prevention and working to ensure equitable access to early detection, detection, treatment and palliative care services.
The Minister said that “Cancer prevention starts with you, your family and the daily choices you make which can reduce your risk of developing cancers by 30 to 50 percent”.
He is urging citizens to:
• avoiding tobacco in all its forms- smoking, vaping, chewing (tobacco use is responsible for 22% of cancer deaths globally).
• maintain a healthy weigh (BMI-18.5 to 24.9) with routine physical activity and exercise.
• eating healthy diets consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
• avoiding excessive alcohol use.
You can further reduce your risk for specific cancers by subscribing to proven best practices. Be sure to discuss these best practices listed below with your community doctor:
• Vaccinating young girls and boys (9-16 years) against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This virus has been shown to cause cancers, especially Cervical Cancer.
• Vaccination of high-risk groups against Hepatitis B virus.
• Reducing exposure to chemicals (e.g., pesticides) by wear protective gear.
• Decreasing over-exposure to sunlight which may lead to skin cancer.
• Seeking routine health checks and cancer screenings at your community doctor and clinic.
Dr Anthony said that his ministry will continue to work with our international partners and local stakeholders to upgrade health facilities and empower health care workers to ensure that all Guyanese have equitable access to the highest quality of care aimed at awareness and prevention, early diagnosis and staging, timely access to appropriate treatment and palliative care and support.
This year, he said that his ministry will work with key stakeholders to develop a National Cancer Control Plan to better manage and oversee all cancer control activities of the Ministry. The Ministry will continue its work in partnership with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Corporations and Presidential National Commission on NCDs to increase awareness through public education, offering increase access to screenings for cervical cancer using VIA (Visual Inspection with Acetic acid and Pap smear testing) and mammography and ultrasound examinations of the breast.
“As we take the time to observe World Cancer Day 2022, I charge you, to make a personal pledge towards the fight against cancer, whether it be helping to raise awareness, or lending support to those diagnosed and their family. Every voice and helpful act counts. Cancer is real, it is serious, it does not discriminate by age, race, sex nor social or economic status. It can affect any one of us, therefore it is important that we continue to work together for better cancer prevention and control,” the minister concluded.