BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - CANCER is posing a challenge to health officials in St. Kitts and Nevis as it continues to be among the leading cause of death across the twin-island Federation.
The announcement was made on yesterday (Feb. 4) as the Federation joined the rest of the world in solidarity with those people who are diagnosed with the ailment, as February 4 was recognised as 'World Cancer Day 2020’.
In a speech released late yesterday to recognise the day, Junior Minister of Health, Wendy Phipps revealed that 83 percent of the deaths in St. Kitts and Nevis are related to non-communicable diseases (NDCs) of which cancer is part.
She explained that the ailment continues to be the leading cause of death, with 235 people who died from it between 2014-2019.
Comparing that figure with those of other NDCs, the Minister asserted that it is higher than heart disease and diabetes which accounted for 173 deaths and 127 deaths, respectively.
In 2019, according to the Minister, there were some 63 cases of cancer diagnosed between January and November, with the leading types being breast cancer in St. Kitts (15.3%) and prostate cancer in Nevis (11.5%).
The Government has over the years pleaded with citizens and residents to take their health seriously by changing their diets and eating habits.
Those calls came as there is a concerted push by the Government to implement a National Health Insurance Scheme which would cover people with pre-existing conditions.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws in her speech too noted that national cancer data indicated that they must work to aggressively prevent the disease wherever it could be done, especially through healthy dietary and lifestyle changes.
“There is growing data to illustrate that positive thinking and spiritual growth also help. We must pursue regular screenings since early detection saves lives. Our community-based and institution-based health care services at our nation’s health centres and hospitals are here to help with such screenings and medical check-ups.
“We must also be relentless in the quest for new, more effective and less invasive treatments than the traditional ones, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Technology, research and innovation will continue to set the tone for these advancements to improve the human condition.”
The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) reminded that cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Americas, with an estimated 3.8 million people newly diagnosed and 1.4 million people died from the disease in 2018.
The body disclosed that “approximately 57% of new cancer cases and 47% of cancer deaths occurred in people 69 years of age and younger in the prime of their lives”.
According to PAHO, “The most frequently diagnosed types of cancer among men are: prostate (21.7%), lung (9.5%), colorectal (8%), bladder (4.6%) and stomach (2.9%). Among women, the types of cancer with the highest incidences are: breast (25.2%), lung (8.5%), colorectal (8.2%), thyroid (5.4 %) and cervical (3.9%).
“The type of cancers with the highest mortality in men are: lung (19.6%), prostate (12.1%), colorectal (9.3%), liver (65) and stomach (5.4%). The cancers that cause the most deaths among women are: lung (17.4%), breast (15.1%), colorectal (9.5%) and cervical (5.2%).”