THE month of February is celebrated as Cancer Prevention Month. World Cancer Day is celebrated every February 4th. What most persons do not know is that every month of the year has a designated cancer assigned to it for awareness. Perhaps October is the most recognized month – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – with its pink ribbons and accessories displayed at every corner. Cancer happens every day and prevention should be an everyday activity.
Cancer has no boundaries – it affects every age, gender, race and economic level in society. It is projected that by 2030 there will be 26 million new cancer cases worldwide and 17 million cancer deaths per year (Thun et al, 2010). Contributing to this increase in numbers is the fact that the population is growing and aging. One in five men and one in six women will develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in eight men and one in 11 women will die from cancer (Nelson et al, 2018).
In St. Lucia, cancer deaths are second only to those caused by cardiovascular disease. Like other developing countries, St. Lucia is plagued with patients being diagnosed with cancer at an advanced stage, as well as the limited availability of and accessibility to treatment. These factors consequently lead to higher mortality rates.
Cancer is a non-communicable disease (NCD). Like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, up to perhaps
Fifty percent of cases of cancer can be prevented. That is an astonishing fact, and an astonishing figure. Lifestyle changes that can prevent cancer and other NCDs are:
• Cessation of smoking
• Limiting alcohol intake
• Regular exercise
• Healthy foods – avoiding processed foods; eating lots of fruits, vegetables and drinking lots of water; avoiding sugary drinks; limiting red meat
• Getting enough sleep
• Avoiding too much sun
• Limiting stress
• Getting our screening tests done
Let us do our part in preventing cancer.