BUENOS AIRES, Apr 18, 2011 (IPS) – In many cases, cancer is preventable, treatable and curable if detected on time. But the fate of millions of women with the disease varies enormously, depending on where they live.
In countries like the United States, Canada, Israel or the nations of the European Union, cervical cancer is almost completely prevented. But in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is the second-most common type of cancer in women, after breast cancer.
This data comes from Globocan 2008, a map that provides the most accurate assessment of the global cancer burden, drawn up by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) based on information from each country.
The online resource shows that in this region, cervical cancer, which is prevented by regular pap smears, is the most frequent type of cancer in countries with the poorest populations: Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru.
It is also the second-most frequently diagnosed cancer in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay and Venezuela, according to the IARC, which forms part of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“If you look at a map of the world, breast cancer is predominant in rich countries and cervical cancer in the poorest countries,” Dr. Marcia Moreira, a Brazilian epidemiologist at the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), told IPS.
According to PAHO, 40 percent of cancer cases diagnosed in the region could be prevented by regular check-ups and physical exercise, a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking.
But among poor women, with lower levels of education and less access to information, the main problem is lack of prevention and control, which means women end up in the hospital with abnormal vaginal bleeding and advanced cancer of the cervix.
[Note from SaneVax: The SaneVax Team would like to congratulate the author of this article, Marcela Valente. She has done a marvelous job of honestly reporting the risk of cervical cancer throughout Latin America and outlining good cervical cancer prevention measures. Much to her credit, she explains the availability of HPV vaccines without necessarily promoting their use. This is the first honest representation the SaneVax Team has seen in the traditional press since the vaccine was approved for use. Thank you, Marcela. The world needs more reporters like you.]