World Cancer Day is more than just a day in the calendar. Cancer affects everyone, so it in our own interest to get involved and work together for a world less burdened with cancer. This 4 February is about understanding that we can all make a difference and that reducing the global cancer incidence is up to each one of us.
This day is also about celebrating the progress that has been made. Scientists around the world are dedicating their lives to understanding cancer and developing new treatments. Based on this knowledge, there are several things we know we can do to contribute to the fight against cancer.
Reduce the risk of developing cancer
We know that over one third of cancers are preventable, either through lifestyle choices or vaccination. Some of the most common tumours, such as liver and cervical cancers, are associated with infections with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the human papillomavirus (HPV), respectively. Today, there are safe and effective vaccines against HBV and HPV, which can help protect against infection-related cancers. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to these vaccines or understands the importance of getting vaccinated.
Take responsibility for your health, maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce your exposure to risk factors, get vaccinated, and remind others to do the same. Commit to the 21 day challenge for inspiration and guidance on positive habits: https://www.worldcancerday.org/21DayChallenge
Avoid late diagnosis and delayed treatment
Scientific research has also shown that patients diagnosed early are far more likely to be treated successfully and have improved chances of survival. Many cancers, including breast, cervical, colorectal or skin, show early signs and symptoms, but not everyone is able to identify them and seek the medical care they need.
Inform yourself about the common signs and symptoms, and teach others. Be prepared to recognise unusual changes in your body. Participate in screening programmes when appropriate.
Millions of lives could be saved every year if appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection and treatment were implemented in every country’s national health systems. Governments and policymakers have the power to address these issues, as well as to raise public awareness and improve education. Let’s work together for a healthier future, uniting our voices and efforts. Together, we are stronger and we can save lives.
As a healthcare communications agency, we work to provide access to accurate information and education materials, as well as raise awareness about cancer. Increasing our understanding and knowledge about this disease can empower all of us to detect early warning signs, make informed choices regarding our health and control our own fears.