Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 3 February 2019. In the Caribbean region, cancer is the second leading cause of death. However, a significant number of cancer deaths can largely be reduced and prevented through many strategies, including primary prevention, early detection, management, and treatment of patients with cancer.

“Nearly one-half of cancers are preventable or treatable if detected early. Cervical cancer, one of the most common cancers among women in the Caribbean, remains a significant public health problem. A study[1] in which CARPHA was involved, revealed that cervical cancer accounted for 4.5%–18.2% of cancer deaths in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean,” stated Dr. Glennis Andall-Brereton, Epidemiologist/Senior Technical Officer, Non-Communicable Diseases at CARPHA.

Breast and cervical cancer are the leading causes of cancer deaths in women and have a significant negative societal impact in our Region. Among Caribbean men, prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths, with lung cancer being second.

Vaccination and screening programmes are effective interventions to reduce the burden of specific types of cancer. Research shows that cervical cancer deaths are 2-9 times higher in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean compared to the USA. The number of deaths from cervical cancer is very concerning because this is the only cancer, which is preventable through screening, early detection, treatment and vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV). A 2017 study[2] highlighted the suitability and need for accelerated implementation of the 9-valent HPV vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer in the Caribbean.

The theme for World Cancer Day 2019 "I Am and I Will” calls for personal commitment to help reduce the global burden of cancer. The fight to reduce cancer deaths cannot be achieved in isolation. On February 4, CARPHA joins its Member States and the rest of the world to unite to make cancer prevention a health priority. Everyone can help reduce the burden of cancer if we each take responsibility for our health. A person’s risk of developing cancer can be substantially reduced through the adoption of healthy lifestyles and the practice of appropriate health seeking behaviours.

Adopting healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way toward reducing cancer risks and the associated personal and financial costs. Prevention measures include avoiding the use of tobacco, limiting alcohol use, keeping a healthy weight, being physically active, and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Participation in screening programmes is strongly encouraged for the prevention of cervical cancer and early detection of breast, colon and rectum cancer; and being vaccinated against and Hepatitis B and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

CARPHA remains committed to working with key partners to reduce the burden of cancer in the Region. In 2018, CARPHA became the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub for the Caribbean, which is working to strengthen cancer surveillance by building capacity for cancer registration in the Region to provide reliable information for improving planning for cancer prevention and control. The Agency is partnering with CARICOM agencies and international institutions to impact trade agreements and influence the availability and access to healthy foods to support the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancer.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6549a3.htm?s_cid=mm6549a3_e

[2] Andall-Brereton, Glennis et al. Prevalence of high-risk human papillomavirus among women in two English-speaking Caribbean countries. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2017;e41:e41

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) will officially launch the IARC Caribbean Regional Hub for Cancer Registration on 12 June 2018.

Located at CARPHA’s Headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, the IARC Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub will be inaugurated during the meeting of the Chief Medical Officers of Health in St Kitts and Nevis by Dr Freddie Bray, Head of IARC’s Cancer Surveillance Section, together with Dr James Hospedales, Executive Director of CARPHA.

The IARC Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub is a partnership between IARC, CARPHA, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). The NCI, and CDC has provided direct funding support as well as technical expertise (along with NAACCR) for numerous activities performed under the Hub, including technical training workshops, assessments of cancer registry operations in four countries, statistical analysis of cancer registry data for two registries and development of standard operations manual for registries.

The Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development (GICR, http://gicr.iarc.fr), led by IARC, the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), is an international partnership that combines technical support, training and advocacy to ensure cancer registry systems are developed across the world to inform national cancer control. Within the framework of GICR, the IARC Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub will serve all independent countries and territories located within the Caribbean basin and selected countries in South America. The newly-inaugurated Hub is part of a larger network of IARC Regional Hubs in Asia, Africa and South America.

“Throughout IARC’s over 50 year history, cancer registration has been a priority. The GICR represents a new model to provide support. Through the collective work of many partners, the IARC Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub will be assisting countries who need it the most.” says Dr Freddie Bray from IARC.

In the Caribbean, cancer is the second leading cause of death. In addition, Caribbean countries are among the worst affected in the Americas, with cervical and prostate cancer mortality rates being two to nine times higher when compared to the United States.

“Cancer registration is limited in the Caribbean and the Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub will seek to strengthen cancer surveillance by building capacity for cancer registration in the Region. The availability of cancer surveillance data is critical to enable evidence-informed decision making, in support of wider national and regional cancer control and prevention programmes” stated Dr James Hospedales.

Currently, only 68 of the world’s countries (mainly those considered as high income) are equipped with high quality population-based cancer registry data, while a further 62 countries (largely those in low- and middle-income countries) have, as yet, no reliable data. In the Caribbean, 15 of 27 countries have some level of cancer registry activity, however quality standards are not uniform and gaps in data collection over time are common. Consequently, there is a paucity of reliable information on the burden of cancer, and as a consequence, evidence-based decision-making for cancer prevention and control is difficult in this region.

KINGSTON, Jamaica. 11 December 2018. The Ministry of Health on Tuesday (December 11, 2018) launched the National Cancer Registry, an important step in the fight to beat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and, in particular, cancer.

“This registry, frankly speaking, could mean the difference between life and death for Jamaicans diagnosed with cancer and/or who are at risk of the disease, certainly in the years to come,” noted Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton at the launch, hosted at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa.

Cancers accounted for 3,538 or 19.3% of total deaths in Jamaica in 2016 while the World Health Organisation International Agency for Cancer Research estimates that for 2018, there will be 7,348 new cases of cancer in Jamaica.

In the case of Jamaica, the Registry – a Population-based Cancer Registry that covers the entire island – will actively collect information on all new cancer cases, including data on patient demographics and cancer type in a defined population.

“This is to describe the burden and distribution of cancer as well as to monitor the impact of cancer prevention and control activities, including cancer screening and early detection, the HPV vaccination programme and cancer treatment programmes; as well as identify areas for research to better understand risk factors and causes for cancers in Jamaica,” the health minister explained.

The main sources of data include laboratory reports, medical records and death certificates. These data are collected and collated using standardised forms and procedures, and then entered into an information system for storage, management and analysis.

The registry, meanwhile, has been made possible with support from key partners, including the Pan American Health Organisation, the Barbados Cancer Registry, and the Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub.

“We thank these organisatons for their partnership, which has taken the form of not only technical support in terms of the adoption of the appropriate software, which powers the database for the registry, but also the contribution of equipment and capacity building,” Tufton noted.

The National Cancer Registry is in sync with the Ministry of Health’s strategic priority to improve the quality of health information systems for the planning and management of the health services.

“Quality and accurate information is, we know, critical for effective decision-making and when it comes to NCDs, including cancers, this is vital. This registry helps to make this possible,” the health minister said.