Beginning this Monday (Feb. 3), Cuba will launch a national campaign — both educational and diagnostic — to raise awareness of and treat cancer of the skin, a condition that mostly affects people who live in tropical regions or areas with constant exposure to the sun.
Tuesday, Feb. 4, has been designated World Cancer Day. In the United States, February is National Cancer Prevention Month.
The start of the campaign in Cuba comes a week after Cuba and Russia signed an agreement to join forces on the research and development of medicines to treat all forms of cancer. (For background, read “Russia, Cuba join forces...” in Progreso Weekly, Jan. 31.)
Clinics throughout the island will make their services available to the population for the purposes of detecting, diagnosing and treating the disease, reported the Cuban daily Granma.
Cuba reports about 5,000 new cases of skin cancer every year, a figure that is on the increase, said Dr. Olaine Gray, national coordinator of the Special Working Group for Skin Cancer of the Public Health Ministry.
The types most frequently detected in Cuba are basal-cell carcinoma, squamous-cell carcinoma and melanoma, she said. Basal-cell carcinoma is the most common and, though locally aggressive, almost never metastasizes (spreads) to other parts of the body. The other two do. Melanoma is less prevalent but metastasizes most aggressively.
Dr. Gray urged Cubans to stay out of the sun between 10 in the morning and 5 p.m. if at all possible and wear dark garments that cover the skin. She encouraged the use of caps, hats and parasols, and emphasized the value of sunscreen lotions, which, she said, should be applied every three or four hours.
Granma lists the hospitals and clinics in Havana where city residents can get advice and assistance.