By Ana María Domínguez Cruz firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Thursday 30 January 2020 | 12:39:43 pm.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in Cuba for women and men, according to recent statistics registered by the Ministry of Public Health (Minsap). This shows the need to be aware, first of all, of the increase in dependence on smoking, the main risk factor for this disease.
This reflection was shared by Dr. Maria Caridad Rubio Hernandez, head of the Independent Section for the control of cancer in Minsap, who warned that the age of initiation in this habit is increasingly younger and the number of women has increased in recent years.
It is important to work on raising public awareness of this type of cancer, because, although we have the Cuban vaccine against lung cancer (CIMAvax-EGF), thanks to the work of scientists at the Center for Molecular Immunology, it is for a specific treatment, not for all types of lung cancer. It is vital to respect the non-smoking areas in public establishments and to address the impact of second-hand smoke, among other actions.
The oncology specialist revealed that in 2019, 48,617 new cases were recorded, and 24,912 people died during that period, with the provinces of Artemisa, Mayabeque, Las Tunas, Granma and Santiago de Cuba recording the highest number of deaths from this type of disease.
We aspire to position cancer as a chronic controlled disease, the official stressed, but to do so we need the responsible behavior of the population and intense educational work.
“Unfortunately, there are non-modifiable risk factors for cancer, such as age and heredity, but self-care and self-responsibility are essential for early diagnosis and timely treatment. This is the case, for example, with breast and cervical cancer, for which the female population does not always understand the urgency of learning to perform breast self-examination or the need to go for cytological testing.
Access to cancer diagnosis and treatment is organized based on the strategy developed by Minsap at the national level, said Rubio,. He mentioned 42 medical oncology services in all the country’s hospitals, the two third-level institutions such as the National Oncology Institute and the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital. In addition, there’s the upcoming incorporation of Cimeq for comprehensive cancer diagnosis, 25 nuclear medicine services, nine radiotherapy services and nine oncopediatrics services as the main access routes.
“Cancer is one of the priorities of our health system and cases of pediatric cancer are becoming more relevant and urgent in the care system. As a result, central nervous system tumors, leukemias and lymphomas being found more frequently in infants.
Rubio pointed out that, in the midst of the hostile context that conditions the blockade imposed on the country, Cuba consolidates the introduction of new technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of this pathology, whose cost is very high.
“Increasingly, personalized medicine is being advocated, which makes care processes more expensive, but it is part of the interest of out health system to maintain a high life expectancy in our population, and with quality”.