It's reported that the global burden of cancer is expected to increase because of aging and lifestyle practices that expose us to cancer causing agents. It is also known that 64% of all cancer deaths worldwide occur in countries that are economically under-developed.

Belize falls in that category. And with almost 200 Cancer related deaths recorded in 2010 and an increasing rate in new diagnoses, Health Authorities here along with the Belize Cancer society are working together to sensitize the community on strategies to prevent cancer through lifestyle choices.

President of the Belize Cancer Society, Laura Tucker Longsworth says the disease is related to lifestyle issues.

Laura Tucker Longsworth - President, Belize Cancer Society
"At the Cancer Society, we look at these conditions, and when you look at them, a lot of them are related to lifestyle issues, and that matches the empirical data. If you look at empirical - meaning worldwide scientific data - there is direct relationship with some cancers and what we eat, drink and the environment that we live in"

Jim McFadzean
"There's been a significant increase in the number of cancer-related deaths in this country. Have you all determined a cause?"

Lara Tucker Longsworth
"We don't know. We don't know. Perhaps we'd like to think that people are more aware that they need to get to the physician earlier, but then again, that is also not quite true because a lot of our men and women are being diagnosed late. When they do present themselves in the health system, they present very late, and so it reduces their survival rate. So we don't know, but what we do know is that we need a comprehensive cancer program for all people in Belize, and we at the Cancer Society have been promoting that and working diligently to impact this message on the community."

Jim McFadzean
"What are the cancers that are prevalent in this country among both men and women?"

Lara Tucker Longworth
"Men and women are affected by colorectal cancers. For, women it's breast cancer, and cervical cancer. For men it's a prostate cancer."

Jim McFadzean
"But there are 2 cancers that..."

Lara Tucker Longwith
"That both of them do have. By the way, men do have breast cancers by the way, but they are in the minority. We are holding a big forum tomorrow at the Bliss Institute starting at 6. It's going from 6 until 9, and it's entitled, 'Let's talk cancer'. The program will consist of Dr. Peter Allen from the Ministry of Health, our pathologiest Dr. Huge Sanchez, who will tell us what he is seeing in his lab and as the pathology expert. Of course, we have a guess speaker, a surgical oncologist, and Mrs. Barrow will give a testimonial. And I like what she is doing because she is putting a face to cancer."

World Cancer Day is observed annually and worldwide on February 4th to increase the general public's awareness on cancer related issues.

Channel 5