Latin America threatened with cancer epidemic

SAO PAULO (TIP): Latin America faces a cancer epidemic unless governments act quickly to improve health care systems and treat the poor, scientists said. The researchers pointed to around 13 deaths for every 22 cancer cases in the region, compared to around 13 deaths for every 37 cases in the United States and around 13 deaths for every 30 cases in Europe. The main reason, according to the study published in the British journal The Lancet Oncology, is that too many people are diagnosed with cancer at a late stage when the disease is much harder to treat and more likely to kill. “Researchers estimate that by 2030, 1.7 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than one million deaths from cancer predicted to occur annually,” said the report launched at the Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group (LACOG) 2013 conference in Sao Paulo.

The disease currently means losses of $4 billion a year for the region, including not just the cost of treatment and medicine, but also the impact on businesses and the economy of lives prematurely cut short by cancer. “These costs will rise substantially if governments do not take coordinated action now to arrest the growing impact of cancer in the region,” the report warned. And it noted that “many people across the region, especially those in poor, rural, or indigenous communities, have little or no access to cancer services, a problem exacerbated by low, and highly inequitable, health investment in most Latin American countries.”

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