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Prostate, breast and colorectal cancer are the main cancers in the region.

About 1.3 million new cancer cases and 666,000 cancer deaths were estimated to have occurred in 2018 in Latin America and the Caribbean. The five most common cancers in 2018 were female breast (200,000 new cases, 15% of all cancer cases), prostate (190,000, 14%), colorectal (128,000, 9%), lung (90,000, 7%) and stomach cancer (67,000, 5%). Lung cancer is the leading cause of death (81,000, 12%), followed by colorectal (65,000 10%), prostate (54,000, 8%), female breast (53,000, 8%) and stomach (52,000, 8%). (Figure 1) Incidence and mortality rates for all cancers combined (except non-melanoma skin) reveal the extent of variation between countries, with incidence rates varying (in both sexes) from 263 (per 100,000) in Uruguay to 105 in Guyana, and mortality from 130 in Uruguay to 61 in Mexico. (Figure 2)

Figure 1. Estimated number of new cancer cases vs. deaths and distribution (%) by type (excludes non-melanoma skin cancer) in Latin America and the Caribbean, both sexes, 2018. There were an estimated 1.3 million cancer cases. The leading cancer cases are breast (15%), prostate (14%), colorectum (10%), lung (7%), stomach (5%), cervix (4%), thyroid (4%), and other cancers (42%). There were an estimated 666,000 cancer deaths. The leading cancer deaths are lung (12%), colorectum (10%), prostate (8%), breast (8%), stomach (8%), liver (6%), pancreas (5%), and other cancers (44%).

Figure 2. All cancer sites combined incidence and mortality rates in Latin America and the Caribbean, both sexes, all ages, 2018. Age-standardized rate (world) per 100,000. In Uruguay, incidence 263.4 and mortality 130.7. In France, Guadeloupe, incidence 254.6 and mortality 77.2. In Puerto Rico, incidence 254.5 and mortality 74.3. In France, Martinique, incidence 250.8 and mortality 88.3. In Barbados, incidence 247.5 and mortality 122.2. In French Guyana, incidence 247 and mortality 71.1. In Argentina, incidence 218 and mortality 105.4. In Brazil, incidence 217.2 and mortality 91.3. In Cuba, incidence 216.5 and mortality 111.9. In Jamaica, incidence 203.7 and mortality 119.9. In Costa Rica, incidence 197.7 and mortality 80.9. In Chile, incidence 195.5 and mortality 95.7. In Peru, incidence 192.6 and mortality 92.9. In Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of, incidence 187.5 and mortality 92.6. In Bahamas, incidence 181.4 and mortality 89.3. In Colombia, incidence 178.8 and mortality 79.2. In Trinidad and Tobago, incidence 177.4 and mortality 100.5. In Paraguay, incidence 175.5 and mortality 86.6. In Panama, incidence 173 and mortality 76.6. In Suriname, incidence 172.6 and mortality 100.3. In Dominican Republic, incidence 163.9 and mortality 94.2. In Saint Lucia, incidence 157.7 and mortality 83.7. In Ecuador, incidence 157.2 and mortality 78.1. In Bolivia, Plurinational State of, incidence 142.9 and mortality 87.5. In Mexico, incidence 142.7 and mortality 61.1. In Haiti, incidence 142.3 and mortality 103.6. In El Salvador, incidence 142.1 and mortality 80.5. In Nicaragua, incidence 141 and mortality 80.9. In Honduras, incidence 134.6 and mortality 81.8. In Belize, incidence 132.4 and mortality 77.5. In Guatemala, incidence 126.9 and mortality 72.1. In Guyana, incidence 105.4 and mortality 67.8.

The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer ranges from 26% (1 in 4 persons) in Uruguay to 11% (1 in 10 persons) in Guyana. The corresponding cancer mortality risk ranges from 14% (1 in 7 persons) in Uruguay to 7% (1 in 15 persons) in Mexico. There are marked variations in the incidence and mortality rates of specific cancers across countries: for example, cervical cancer varies six-fold for incidence, from 39 per 100,000 in Bolivia to 7 in Guadeloupe, and a striking 15-fold for mortality, from 19 in Jamaica to 1 in Martinique. While the highest prostate cancer incidence rates are seen in the Caribbean, with 189 per 100,000 in Guadeloupe, the lowest are estimated in Honduras (25). In Bolivia, the most common cause of cancer death is gallbladder cancer. (Map 1)

Bolivia and Chile have the highest gallbladder cancer rates in the world.

In some countries with longstanding cancer registries, there is evidence of moderate increases in all-cancer incidence rates; this is mainly due to an upwards trend in incidence rates of the most common cancer types, including female breast, colorectal and prostate cancer—coinciding with marked declines in stomach and cervical cancer. (Figure 3a & b, 4a & b) In contrast, overall cancer mortality rates are stabilizing or in decline in most countries during the most recent decade, driven by favorable mortality trends for major cancers in the region, except colorectal cancer, for which rates are rising in many countries. While lung cancer mortality rates in men are decreasing in many countries, they are still increasing in women. Bolivia and Chile exhibit the highest incidence rates of gallbladder cancer worldwide (14 and 9 per 100,000, respectively), possibly related to specific types of indigenous ancestry.

Figure 3a. Incidence trends in selected countries in Latin America, prostate cancer, all ages, 1982–2012. Age-standardized rate (world) per 100,000.
Prostate cancer incidence rates increased from about 20 cases per 100,000 in 1984 in all countries before plateauing around 55 in the 2000s in Costa Rica and Quito, Ecuador and peaking around 65 in the early 2000s before declining to about 60 in 2010 in Valdivia, Chile and Cali, Colombia.

Figure 4a. Incidence trends in selected countries in Latin America, male stomach cancer, all ages, 1982–2012. Age-standardized rate (world) per 100,000. Stomach cancer rates have been steadily declining from around 30-40 cases per 100,000 in 1984 to around 20 in 2010 in Valdivia, Chile; Cali, Colombia; Costa Rica; and Quito, Ecuador.

Bolivia and Chile gallbladder cancer rates:
Ferlay J, Ervik M, Lam F, et al. Global Cancer Observatory: Cancer Today. Lyon, France: IARC. Available from: https://gco.iarc.fr/today.

Bray F, Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Siegel RL, Torre LA, Jemal A. Global cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018; 68(6): 394-424.

Ferlay J, Ervik M, Lam F, et al. Global Cancer Observatory: Cancer Today. Lyon, France: IARC. Available from: https://gco.iarc.fr/today.

Map and Figures 1 and 2:
Ferlay J, Ervik M, Lam F, et al. Global Cancer Observatory: Cancer Today. Lyon, France: IARC. Available from: https://gco.iarc.fr/today.

Figures 3 and 4:
Rates are 5-year smoothed averages.

WHO Cancer Mortality Database, http://www-dep.iarc.fr/WHOdb/WHOdb.htm

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