Cancers continue to be the third leading cause of death in Barbados, surpassed only by cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.
Senior Public Health Nurse, Ann Murrell, delivering an address on behalf of Health Minister John Boyce, at the annual conference of Cancer Support Services last Saturday, listed the cancers of particular public health concern as those of the prostate, breast, cervix and colon.
She added: “What is of great concern is the premature death attributable to cancers and the potential years of life lost from cancer occurring in persons less than 65 years of age.”
Nurse Murrell said the Ministry of Health was committed to continuing to invest in an enhanced surveillance system in order to accurately identify cases of cancer in Barbados.
The Ministry has also championed several public health initiatives, she said, including publishing age-specific guidelines for physical activity, the adoption of guidelines for nutritious and healthy foods in schools, banning smoking in public places and banning the sale of cigarettes to minors.
The Chief Public Health Nurse stated: “The World Health Organisation gives us reason to be optimistic by projecting that up to 40 per cent of cancers are preventable using simple lifestyle interventions.” She identified some of these interventions as abstinence from tobacco, a reduction in the use of alcohol and the adoption of healthy diets and exercise.
Nurse Murrell acknowledged the valuable work of Cancer Support Services which, she said, had built a solid reputation as an organisation that provided hands-on support to persons living with cancer and their relatives.
“Chronic illness is not the individual’s disease alone, but can impact on families, communities and even the entire country. The Cancer Support Services must be commended for its tremendous efforts to ensure that clients access all aspects of care,” she noted.