May 21, 2024

Advancing Colorectal Cancer Screening Programs in Latin America

In a study led by researchers from Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, efforts have been made to shed light on colorectal cancer screening initiatives in Latin America. The research reveals key insights that could help in curbing the rising incidence of colorectal cancer in the region.

Colorectal cancer screening programs in Latin America have been a relatively understudied area, especially in low-middle-income countries like Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Bolivia. The recent study identified a lack of structured screening programs in these countries, highlighting a crucial gap in preventive healthcare measures. However, in high-middle-income countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, where screening programs are in place, the prevalence of colorectal cancer was found to be comparable to that in high-income countries.

Early detection of colorectal cancer through screening plays a vital role in improving prognosis and reducing mortality rates. Given that colorectal cancer ranks as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally and often remains asymptomatic in its initial stages, effective screening programs are essential for timely intervention.

While the burden of colorectal cancer is increasing in Latin America, there are challenges such as limited resources, infrastructure, and public awareness hindering the implementation of widespread screening initiatives. The study calls for a more significant emphasis on screening and preventive research efforts across Latin America to address the growing colorectal cancer burden.

Analyzing data from studies conducted in English, Spanish, and Portuguese with a total of approximately 124,000 participants, the researchers noted successful implementation of colon cancer screening strategies involving fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) and colonoscopies in several high-middle-income Latin American countries. These countries exhibited high rates of screening uptake, with a significant number of patients undergoing colonoscopies following positive FIT results.

Dr. Thomas Imperiale from Regenstrief Institute emphasized the potential effectiveness of population-level screening programs in Latin America, particularly in high-middle-income countries, in reducing the impact of colorectal cancer. FIT emerged as a cost-effective and logistically feasible screening option for the region, offering a practical approach to enhancing screening coverage.

Dr. Eleazar Montalvan-Sanchez, the lead author of the study and an internal medicine resident at IU School of Medicine, stressed the importance of these findings for patients, healthcare providers, and policymakers in Latin America and the U.S. The study findings underscore the need for enhanced awareness and access to colorectal cancer screening in Latin America to improve health outcomes and reduce the disease burden.

In conclusion, the study highlights the pressing need for structured colorectal cancer screening programs in Latin America, especially in low-middle-income countries grappling with inadequate screening resources. The researchers advocate for prioritizing colorectal cancer screening as a public health imperative in Latin America to combat the escalating incidence of the disease effectively.

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1.      Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2.      We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it