Cancer is killing relatively fewer Costa Ricans today than it was 15 years ago, the Social Security System, or Caja, reported this week.
Though the absolute number of cancer deaths in Costa Rica has increased slightly over the past 15 years, the rate per 100,000 inhabitants has declined 17 percent over that period.
According to the analysis, deaths by cancer in 2001 were 102 per 100,000 inhabitants. The figure dropped to 85 in 2015.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Costa Rica just behind heart disease.
Caja Executive President María del Rocío Sáenz attributed the decline to the agency’s investments in new equipment, more medicines and training for medical staff. Caja hospitals currently spend an average of ₡13 million ($23,400) every hour in cancer diagnoses and treatments, according to the report.
Those funds come from Caja’s annual budget and also from special income sources such as taxes and monetary fines collected from the anti-smoking law and others.
13 cancer deaths per day
In 2015, public hospitals recorded a total of 4,667 deaths from cancer, or nearly 13 deaths per day, according to the report. Fifty-five percent were male patients while 45 percent were female.
More than half of the men and nearly half of the women who died of cancer last year were over age 69.
Stomach cancer is the No. 1 killer among cancers of men in Costa Rica, followed by prostate cancer.
For women, breast cancer is the top killer, followed by stomach cancer.
Alejandro Calderón, who coordinates Caja’s Cancer Care Program, said risk factors in the country include age, low consumption of vegetables and fruits, smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity.