Cancer is the third leading cause of death in Barbados, surpassed only by cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Minister of Health, John Boyce, noted that those cancers which were of particular public concern were cancers of the prostate, breast, cervix and colon which were attributable to premature deaths in persons under 65 years of age.

He made the comments recently at a clinical workshop held by the American Society of Clinical Oncology at Hilton Barbados.

The Health Minister pointed out that his Ministry was committed to continued investment in an enhanced surveillance system in order to accurately identify ???old and new cases of cancer in Barbados???.

Mr. Boyce told those attending the workshop that the World Health Organization projected that up to 40 per cent of cancers were preventable using simple lifestyle interventions such as abstinence from tobacco, reduction of alcohol use and the adoption of healthy diets and exercise.

???Therefore, our efforts must not only target persons with disease, but our efforts must be strengthened towards preventing persons at risk from developing disease…,??? he stated, adding that the Ministry had championed several public health initiatives that promoted healthy lifestyles such as the publishing of age specific guidelines for physical activity and exercise; the adoption of school-based guidelines for wholesome nutrition in schools and the banning of smoking in public places as well as the sale of cigarettes to minors.

He said that as part of Government???s cancer prevention and control programme, the Ministry of Health would be introducing the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine to prevent cancer in ???all pre-teen girls from the beginning of the next school term???.

???This public health intervention will hopefully reap benefits by diminishing the incidence of cervical cancer in young women. As part of our comprehensive programme, the Ministry of Health will continue to invest in cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. Most recently, we upgraded the Cobalt Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital with the purchase of radiotherapy equipment for delivery of radiotherapy, facilitated by a donation from our own Rihanna,??? he explained.

Mr. Boyce lauded the work done by the non-governmental organisations in the areas of cancer prevention and control, particularly that of the Barbados Cancer Society and Cancer Support Services.

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