QUITO – Controlling cancer in rural Latin America is deficient due to late diagnoses and lack of care for patients, Central University of Ecuador (UCE) Medical School dean Ramiro Lopez said on Wednesday during a health forum in Quito organized by the university and Agencia EFE.
“These are, often, also the most impoverished areas in Latin American countries, with all the shortages that implies regarding health insurance,” Lopez said, speaking at the opening of the forum.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Latin America and an additional regional challenge in dealing with the disease is “the fragmentation of health systems,” Lopez said.
“Fragmentation is the weak link in cancer control in Latin America. Many countries in the region have a series of parallel health systems where resources are insufficient,” Lopez said.
The problem is even worse for people living in isolated communities, as well as people who cannot afford private health insurance or obtain coverage through social security systems.
“Few countries have universal health care coverage, others strive to meet the needs of people without insurance coverage, and yet others offer hospital care in the context of the public health systems,” Lopez said.
Among men in Latin America, the most commonly diagnosed cancers are those of the lungs, prostate, colon and rectum, stomach and liver, while among women the most common cancers are those of the breast, colon and rectum, cervix and stomach.
Latin American health officials expect the number of new cancer cases to grow nearly 70 percent over the next two decades.