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Cancer Society opens dialogue with media on non-communicable diseases

Laura Longsworth (Belize Cancer Society)

Laura Longsworth (Belize Cancer Society)

Laura Longsworth
(Belize Cancer Society)

AARON HUMES Reporting: The Belize Cancer Society today hosted the press in an information and strategy session to address the issues of portrayal of non-communicable diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, hypertension, diabetes and especially cancer in print and on the airwaves.

These diseases are recognized as a leading cause of death in Belize.

From 2007 to 2011 there were 857 deaths caused by cancer in Belize: 421 women and 436 men.

For women, cervical cancer caused 23% of all deaths; prostate and lung cancer are leaders among men.

According to Cancer Society president Laura Longsworth, Belizeans must begin to change their lifestyles and eating habits and make regular visits to the doctor, getting over their shyness with regard to medical procedures.

She pointed out that health services are available to all Belizeans, even under NHI (National Health Insurance), but few take advantage, especially men.

The Healthy Caribbean Coalition, of which the Society is a part, recently released a report addressing regional initiatives to plan responses to non-communicable diseases, especially cervical cancer.

Any one of 30 strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV) can lead to getting genital warts and/or cervical cancer.

If left untreated, it can be fatal, but it does not initially present symptoms like most other cancers. Additionally, most Belizeans struggle with the idea of exposing themselves to a pap smear or any kind of doctor visit due to their personal beliefs.

Mrs. Longsworth said today that these should not be afraid as the pap smear, for instance, takes just five minutes, and there are alternatives.

The Society has offered to assist media houses with promoting health issues in their daily discourse through talk shows, newscasts and other outlets.

It is also asking Belizeans to go online to sign an e-petition called “End Cervical Cancer Now,” which has already collected 2,000 signatures.

The petition will be presented to Caribbean heads of government including Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Minister of Health Pablo Marin seeking their assistance in ensuring that adequate screening options for women with cervical cancer are established.

In the meantime, the best option for those who have family histories of cancer and those who suspect they may have cancer symptoms is to visit your doctor, and do so regularly.

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