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  • Cancer is a leading cause of death in the Americas. In 2012, cancer accounted for 1.3 million deaths, 47% of which occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • The number of cancer deaths in the Americas is projected to increase from 1.3 million to 2.1 million between 2012 and 2030.
  • About a third of all cancer cases could be prevented by avoiding key risk factors. These include tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
  • Vaccination and screening programmes are effective interventions to reduce the burden of specific types of cancer.
  • Many cancers have a high chance of cure if detected early and treated adequately.

Cancer in the Americas

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Americas region, where there were an estimated 2.8 million new cancer cases and 1.3 million cancer deaths in 2012. The most common cancers in the Region include: lung, prostate and colorectal cancers in men; and breast, lung and colorectal cancers in women. With an aging population, and with the epidemiological transition in Latin America and the Caribbean, the cancer burden is projected to increase significantly.

The current scientific evidence suggests that 40% of cancers can be prevented, through reduction of risk factors and primary prevention; a further 30% can be cured if detected early and treated appropriately; and all cases of advanced cancer can benefit from palliative care.

However, countries in the Americas, especially low and middle income countries are challenged to meet the demand generated on their health systems from cancer and other chronic diseases. PAHO/WHO promotes a comprehensive approach to cancer prevention and control which includes developing a national cancer plan with evidence-based interventions for prevention, screening and early detection, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.

:: Latest News: Cancer

Wellness Week in the Americas will promote healthy living and healthy policies

 The 4th annual Wellness Week in the Americas will kick off this Saturday, Sept. 13, with activities throughout the hemisphere that promote healthy living and healthy policies. The regional initiative, which is led by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), promotes opportunities for healthy living to help prevent noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory conditions, which are now the leading causes of death, illness and disability in countries throughout the Americas.


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:: Scientific and Technical Materials: Cancer Program

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
525 Twenty-third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, United States of America
Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663

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