Hawaii steps up cancer fight

LIHUE — The Hawaii Comprehensive Cancer Coalition unveiled the Hawaii State Cancer Plan, 2016-2020, on Wednesday at their summit at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki.

The plan presents a vision and a list of actions designed to reduce cancer in the Aloha State. While the summit is taking place in Honolulu, each island is impacted by this new plan, including Kauai.

“It’s a compliment to our communities that we’re continually working and looking at effective ways to reduce the incidence of cancer and that our focus is truly on early detections and screenings through checkups,” said Rachelle Bachran, Public Educator at Kauai’s Department of Health Office.

Cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in Hawaii.

“Improving screening and treatment is necessary to address the disparities that exist with men and minority populations,” said Virginia Pressler, DOH director.

Men and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) are more likely to die from the disease than women and other ethnicities are as the plan points out, because these groups are less likely to regularly be screened for cancer.

Men in Hawaii are 1.5 times more likely to die from cancer than women, due in part to lower screening rates.

“It’s extremely important, of course, to get men in for screenings and checkups and that is something that we’re working on,” Bachran said. “They don’t go in for checkups and screenings, they wait too late.”

From 2000 and 2014, men had 3,481 more cancer deaths than women, according to the DOH. While screening rates have improved over the last decade for both sexes, men are less likely to survive diagnosis which indicates that they were not diagnosed early enough to prevent death.

In 2014, 9,200 more women than men were diagnosed with some type of cancer in Hawaii.

The Hawaii State Cancer Plan is based on national recommendations and was developed by key figures across the state. The plan organizes its priority objectives under four major goals: Prevention, early detection, equitable access to care and quality of life.

To address these issues, the plan will introduce strategies for prevention and early detection.

Lung and bronchus cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death, and is responsible for more than one in every five cancer deaths in Hawaii, regardless of gender. Colorectal cancer is the second- and third-leading cause of death for men and women, respectively, as one in 10 men die from the disease each year, compared to nearly one in ten women dying annually.

“Though deaths resulting from cancer are decreasing over time, it remains the fact that one in five deaths from all cancers are potentially avoidable,” said Cancer Coalition Chair Dr. Shane Morita in a news release. “The Hawaii State Cancer Plan gives us a roadmap to tackle these disparities, claim our victory over cancer, and ultimately save lives.”

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