Trinidad and Tobago has one of the region's highest cancer mortality rates, according to a new report from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
The report links the country's high incidence of cancer-related death to the prevalence of obesity in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Obesity, an important cancer risk factor, is prevalent in T&T, as well as in the Bahamas, Belize and Saint Kitts & Nevis. Obesity is described as a body mass index of 30 or above.
How to calculate your Body Mass Index.
The report also showed that T&T provides limited access to opioids (less than13 mg total morphine equivalents per capita).
However, it acknowledged that T&T was one of only 13 of 35 countries that reported having introduced vaccines for HPV–which causes cervical cancer–into its national immunisation program.
Download the PDF: Find out more about cancer mortality in Trinidad and Tobago.
Cancer rate highest in Caribbean, Latin America
The PAHO report shows that Latin America and the Caribbean account for approximately 50% of cancer deaths in the Americas, although they account for 63% of the hemisphere's population.
Overall, cancer is holding steady as the second-leading cause of death in the Americas, claiming an estimated 1.3 million lives each year, according to Cancer in the Americas: Country Profiles, 2013, released this week at the 5th International Cancer Control Congress (Nov. 3�6) in Lima, Peru.
Cancer deaths overall are declining in nine countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Venezuela and the United States.
Mexico, Nicaragua and El Salvador have the lowest cancer mortality rates.
Women more at risk
Although cancer mortality rates vary for men and women, it is typically higher in men, driven by high rates of lung and prostate cancers. In Latin American and Caribbean men, the majority of cancer deaths are due to prostate cancer, followed by lung, stomach and colorectal cancers; and in women, breast cancer, followed by stomach, lung, cervical and colorectal cancers.
"The large number of deaths from breast and cervical cancer in Latin America and the Caribbean is very disconcerting, since cervical cancer is largely preventable, and breast cancer can be detected early and treated successfully,'' said Silvana Luciani, PAHO/WHO advisor on cancer prevention and control.
''This points to the need to improve screening and treatment, especially for women in rural and remote areas, where access to health services is especially limited."
Health data can improve policy
The report is based on recent data compiled by PAHO about cancer mortality, risk factors, and cancer policies and services in the countries of North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.
For each country, data are presented for leading cancer types (ranked by mortality); trends in cancer deaths from 2000 to 2010; main cancer risk factors (tobacco, alcohol, diet, physical inactivity, obesity); key socio-demographic factors; and health sector plans, policies and services for cancer.
"The idea is to provide key information that can help countries monitor progress in cancer control and assess areas of need," said Luciani. "This report contributes significantly to the evidence base for cancer policymaking and health care."
Although T&T has a national, hospital-based cancer registry, the last year for which data are available is 2011.