Cancer in Latin America, a growing problem
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez’s thyroid cancer makes her the latest in a series of Latin American leaders to be diagnosed with cancer — a reflection of escalating rates of the disease in the region.
While Latin America’s presidents have access to the best medical care in the world, most Latin Americans aren’t so fortunate. More than 70 percent of cancers in the region are diagnosed when the disease is incurable, according to the American Cancer Society.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Americas, with an estimated 2.5 million new cases and 1.2 million deaths annually in 2008, according to the Pan American Health Organization. About half the cancer cases were in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Presidents Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil have undergone cancer treatments recently.
In October, doctors said a tumor found in the throat of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was in an intermediate stage. It demonstrated the “classic aggressiveness” of larynx cancer.
Chavez, a longtime U.S. foe, went so far as to suggest that perhaps Washington could be responsible for the sudden rash of cancer among Latin American leaders.
The Venezuelan president said he wasn’t accusing the U.S. and didn’t have proof, but asked: “Would it be strange if they had developed a technology to induce cancer and no one knew it?”
The American Cancer Society reports that cervical cancer is the “major threat in the lesser developed countries of the region, and in pockets of greater poverty within more advanced countries, while rates of prostate and breast cancer are increasing in the more industrialized countries, due to dietary changes that often accompany rising standards of living.”
“The specter of tobacco looms across the entire region, and it is anticipated that if smoking rates do not decrease, lung cancer will emerge as the main killer in the region. Cancer control is further hampered by weak public health systems across the region, with the possible exceptions of Chile and Uruguay.”
The highest cancer mortality rates were in Uruguay, Barbados, Peru, Argentina and Chile.
Read the full story at the Huffington Post