The number one cause of death among Latinos is cancer, to the degree that 21% of deaths per year are caused by this disease. For men, the main reason for loss of life is lung cancer; and in women, breast cancer.
In an interview with The opinion, Dr. Carmen E. Guerra of the American Cancer Association, specified that the type of cancer that most affects Latino men is prostate cancer, but does not die from this, since there are very good treatments. But he emphasized that they do die from lung cancer, which is the leading cause of death among Latino men.
“Cancer in the lungs is caused by smoking. 20% of Americans still smoke, ”he said.
And he regretted that many do not know that there are evaluations that can be done every year that warn of the early presence of cancer in the lungs. Nor do doctors recommend them. «By not doing these scans, when the cancer in the lungs is detected, it is already very advanced and cannot be cured.»
Death number 1
Dr. Guerra said that breast cancer, which is the leading cause of death among Latinas, can be prevented with a mammogram. «If detected early, 95% of cases are curable.»
He indicated that women should begin to have mammograms from the age of 40 and 44 if they wish and depending on their family history. “From the age of 45, it is no longer an option. They should have a mammogram; and from the age of 54, every two years ”.
Breast cancer in women in their 30s is very rare, although it does occur. «Women at that age who have a family history of cancer or the cancer gene can get mammograms.»
The specialist mentioned that cancer risk factors are increasing. “When I graduated from medical school in 1993, the risk of breast cancer was 1 in 12 women. Today it is 1 in 9 ”.
He considered that the growth of cancer may be related to the fact that we live longer, but also to the fact that more women no longer have children at 18 or 20 years, but after 35 years, and that increases the risk.
But she emphasized that breastfeeding is a factor that helps prevent breast cancer. «When cells make milk they don’t become cancerous.»
A risk that also promotes breast cancer is obesity because it releases hormones that help cancer cells grow. «In addition, late menopause contributes to breast cancer because the more menstruation cycles a woman has, the risk increases.»
Another factor that causes breast cancer is lack of exercise, which is linked to obesity.
“Alcohol use is also another cause of breast cancer. More and more women are drinking wine, beer, hard liquor. And two or more drinks a day increase the risk of breast cancer. A woman should have a glass of wine at most ”.
Dr. Guerra recommended avoiding the use of hormone replacement therapies as they are another contributing factor to breast cancer.
He pointed out that after breast cancer, the second most common cancer in women is thyroid cancer, followed by uterine cancer and colon cancer in fourth place.
In Latino men, the number one cancer is the prostate; followed by colon cancer; and then cancer of the lungs; fourth, kidney cancer; and fifth, liver cancer.
Cancer and virus
He mentioned that there are other types of cancer that Latinos suffer, which are associated with viruses. «The H. Pylori virus causes stomach cancer in all of Latin America, but we do not see it here because we do not drink water from the rivers but we treat the water, and there are many regulations for the preparation of food and we do not pass it in hand» .
Another virus is hepatitis B, which causes cancer, and is among the 5 types of cancer that affect Latinos the most: prostate, colon, lungs, kidneys and liver.
«The last virus is the Human Papilloma, associated with cervical cancer.»
Dr. Guerra considered that Latinos are exposed to these three types of viruses when they are children and young people in their countries, and when they come to the United States, they are diagnosed.
About uterine cancer, he said that tests can begin to be practiced from the age of 25. «But a new recommendation from the American Cancer Society is that women be screened between the ages of 35 and 65.»
Older women do not need to have a Pap test because it is incredibly rare for older women to have this type of cancer.
“With almost all cancers, the risk of getting it is greater the older you are, but with cervical cancer it is the opposite. If you are 65 years old and you have not had cervical cancer, it is very likely that you will never get ”.
For women without health insurance, Dr. Guerra recommended visiting the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection program that provides free mammograms and Pap tests and virus infections. Visit the site: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp/screenings.htm
The best advice that Dr. Guerra gave to prevent all types of cancer is to visit your primary doctor once a year for tests that can detect it early or prevent it.
«They must follow the recommendations given in case of obesity or smokers to prevent it from developing.»