Cancer Among Leading Caribbean Death Causes, Small Islands Struggle

Author  Edited from CMC

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -Cancer is now among the leading causes of death in the Caribbean and, despite this growing burden, many small island nations in the region have health systems that struggle to provide optimal cancer care for their populations.

In a paper published in the Lancet, one of the world’s leading general medical journals, Dr. Glennis Andall-Brereton, senior technical officer for non-communicable diseases at the Trinidad-based Caribbean Publish health Agency (CARPHA), noted “cancer causes a fifth of deaths in the Caribbean region and its incidence is increasing”.

In the paper, titled ”Cancer Control in the Caribbean island countries and territories: some progress but the journey continues”, which Dr. Andall-Brereton co-authored, it is noted that the incidence and mortality patterns of cancer in the Caribbean reflect globally widespread epidemiological transitions and show cancer profiles that are unique to the region.


But there appears an uphill climb to any solution.

“Providing comprehensive and locally responsive cancer care is particularly challenging in the Caribbean because of the geographical spread of the islands”, the paper noted, “the frequently under-resourced health-care systems, and the absence of a cohesive approach to cancer control.

“In many Caribbean countries and territories, cancer surveillance systems are poorly developed, advanced disease presentations are commonplace, and access to cancer screening, diagnostics, and treatment is often suboptimal, with many patients with cancer seeking treatment abroad”.

The third paper is part of a five-part series titled “Cancer Control in Small Island Nations” and places emphasis on the crucial role of collaborative approaches, including through funding and investment opportunities with more developed countries, to create comprehensive cancer control programs to improve cancer planning, prevention, and treatment in these under-resourced small island nations.

The fourth paper is titled “Advancing cancer care and prevention in the Caribbean: a survey of strategies for the region”. It identifies promising initiatives to improve cancer prevention and treatment that have emerged across CARICOM countries.