Decrease in mortality rate to main cancer types in El Salvador

The mortality rate from cervical, colorectal, stomach, lung, and leukemia cancer has decreased during recent years in El Salvador. According to data from the Ministry of Health (MINSAL), reports on cervical cancer mortality were 151 cases in 2017 and 107 in 2019; that is, it went from a fatality rate of 11.12% to 7.65%.

Similarly, reports show that in 2017 there were 129 deaths from colorectal cancer and, in 2019, they decreased to 118. Stomach cancer went from 202 to 179 deaths. Lung cancer went from 87 to 83 demises. There was also a significant decrease in fatalities to leukemia from 327 in 2017 to 305; in 2019. These cancers are some of the priority cancers because of the frequency of cases.

Andrea Chacón, a medical collaborator of the Office of Non-communicable Diseases of the Ministry of Health (MINSAL), delivered a presentation on this matter, stating that the decrease in passings could be related to the care strategy developed by the Ministry, including screening and vaccination against human papilloma.

“There has been a decrease and we believe that it is due to the whole strategy that we have been implementing with population-based screening, with a better resolution at the first level of care,” said the specialist.

Similarly, one of the main cancer prevention measures that are being developed in the country is that the papillomavirus vaccine has been incorporated since 2020. It is considering that the virus causes the most cancer in America.

«We are complying with the prevention of cervical cancer that the World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed. This helps in reducing infectious agents. We also apply the hepatitis B vaccine, ”Chacón reported.

A year ago, MINSAL joined the accelerated strategy to eradicate cervical cancer, by setting the goal to have 90% of girls vaccinated, and 70% of women screened. They also have technical guidelines for the operation of the hospital and population cancer registry.

Under this same health promotion strategy, the number of consultations for cancer has increased. In 2015, there were 49,530 consultations and in 2019 there were 58,623. According to Chacón, this increase is expected, since by bringing services and information to the population about these pathologies, people’s awareness and interest in knowing their health status increases. Likewise, the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (ISSS) provides specialized care to patients diagnosed with cancer.

According to the WHO, in 2020 there were 20 million new cases of cancer and 10 million deaths from this disease in the world. In America, 4 million new cases and 1.4 million deaths were registered. About 57% of new cancer cases and 47% of deaths occur in people 69 years of age or younger.

In El Salvador, during 2020, 9,626 new cases of cancer were reported. The most common are breast, prostate, stomach, and colon cancer. In addition, the main risk factors in the country are obesity, tobacco consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, and an unhealthy diet. The specialist warned that reducing tobacco is essential to reduce the percentage of cancers in the world.

“Cancer is the abnormal growth of malignant cells in an uncontrollable way, which penetrate the other systems and do so through the lymphatic system and the blood system, which causes metastasis, which causes catastrophic outcomes in this pathology”, indicated Chacón.

Excess ultraviolet light, excessive exposure to ionizing radiation, environmental pollution, and reproductive and hormonal factors also play a role as risk factors. 40% of cancers are due to a person’s genetics.