National health

Cancer mortality rates falling in Chile

Chile is among nine nations in the Americas with a decreasing rate in cancer mortality, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

Thursday, December 26, 2013  
Chilean scientists tackle breast cancer research at four public hospitals. (Photo by Andyde/Flickr) Chilean scientists tackle breast cancer research at four public hospitals. (Photo by Andyde/Flickr)



Encouraging signs in the fight against cancer have emerged from nine states in the Americas — including Chile.

While the disease remains the second leading cause of death in the region, mortality rates are falling in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Venezuela and the United States — according to a report compiled by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

On the whole, cancers with the highest reduction of total deaths in the study area include cervical, skin (melanoma) and lung cancer, while deaths are increasing in colon and liver cancer.

In Chile, mortality has decreased in five of the nine cancers analyzed in the study: melanoma, cervical, prostate, breast and stomach cancer.

“The idea is to provide key information that can help countries monitor progress in cancer control and assess areas of need,” Silvana Luciani, PAHO/WHO advisor on cancer prevention and control, said of the study. “This report contributes significantly to the evidence base for cancer policymaking and health care.”

Cervical cancer has decreased significantly in Chile, thanks no doubt in large part to increased screening. According to the report, 60 percent of Chilean women between the ages of 25 and 64 years were tested in the last three years with the screening exam — covered by public insurance and considered a common and necessary check up procedure for women’s health plans in most developed countries.

There is cause for concern, however, with regard to lung cancer. The disease is on the increase in Chile, a country with high levels of tobacco consumption. In response to these concerns, the Chilean government joined the world wide trend of banning smoking in public areas in 2012.

Also notable in Chile is the country’s impressive access to radiotherapy. Chile is one of 10 nations in the region that meets the international standard of at least two units of radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer per one million inhabitants, with 2.9 units administered.

For more information, head to the PAHO’s country profile on Chile, and see the report overview here.

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