A report released at the Fifth International Cancer Control Congress this past week indicates that deaths from cancer have declined in seven different Latin American countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela. Mexico, Nicaragua, and El Salvador lead the region in having the lowest mortality rates while Cuba and Argentina (despite the decrease) have the highest.
The types of cancers found in Latin America (including the Carribbean nations) differ from other parts of the Americas in that prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women are the number one killers. In Canada and the United States, lung cancer is the top cancer killer in both men and women.
Breast cancer leads in 22 different counties and cervical cancer leads in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. This is problematic because this negative trend can be halted. Cervical cancer can be prevented through regular check-ups and screenings for HPV and cervical changes. Breast cancer can be treated if and when it is caught early. A higher emphasis on education to treatment and prevention options and availability of care and doctors is essential to stopping both of these cancers from killing women, especially in rural and remote areas where medical services are more limited.
Overall, despite being a leading cause of death in some countries, cervical cancer deaths are significantly decreasing in several others. Similarly, breast cancer deaths have decreased in Argentina.
By breaking down the types of cancer that affect various countries and regions, and demonstrating which types of cancers have the highest mortality rates, countries can use this information to create health programs and awareness specific to their own populations. By assessing the greatest needs of their respective populations, they can utilize policies that will do the most help in creating better health care options.