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February 4th has been declared “World Cancer Day”.

At first I was skeptical, thinking – Yikes, another awareness campaign!. Also, I was disheartened when I learned that Chevrolet would donate $1 to the American Cancer Society (ACS) for every person that changed his or her social media profile to purple. Another color (purple already taken by pancreatic cancer and a host of other cancers and maladies but also used for general cancer awareness), another corporation that needs a marketing opportunity and social engagement, probably requiring emails and phone numbers too, to sell more cars. I was thinking why couldn’t these corporations just donate money to cancer research and not funnel money through the ACS and not have to make a big marketing production? With a twenty year personal history here, I wondered, am I just jaded, skeptical about all the hype?

What is World Cancer Day?

Interestingly, as I dug around, I was quite impressed. World Cancer Day was started in 2013 by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). It is a membership organization that exists to help the global health community accelerate the fight against cancer. (Hopefully this will not mortph into the Global Cancer Society the way American Cancer Control morphed into ACS – yes, as I said, jaded).

Founded in 1933 and based in Geneva, Switzerland, UICC has a growing membership of over 800 organizations across 155 countries. This membership features the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes and patient groups. Together with its members, key partners, the World Health Organization, World Economic Forum and others, UICC is tackling the growing cancer crisis on a global scale. Pretty impressive I think! (See http://www.uicc.org/homepage)

So, What is World Cancer Day?

According to the UICC it…”is the one singular initiative under which the entire world can unite together in the fight against the global cancer epidemic. It takes place every year on the 4th of February. World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.”

So what is “World Cancer Day 2014” about?

2014 ‘World Cancer Day’ is about globally ‘Debunking Myths’. Here are the ‘Myths’ and their positions.

myth01

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE:

Talking about cancer challenges negative beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate myths about cancer, cause fear and stigma and prevent people from seeking early detection and treatment.

Governments, communities, employers and media all have a role to play to challenge perceptions about cancer to create a culture where people are empowered to access quality cancer prevention and care.

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE:

Investing in prevention and early detection of cancer is cheaper than dealing with the consequences

myth02

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

The success of early detection programmes can be measured by a reduction in the stage of the cancer at diagnosis with earlier diagnosis associated with a reduction in the risk of dying from cancer.

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

The provision of a skilled and supported cancer workforce is critical to the success of early detection programs for cancer.

myth03

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE: 

The implementation of policies and programs that support a life-course approach to prevention, and strengthen the capacity of individuals to adopt healthy lifestyles choices can bring about behavioral change, which can help prevent cancer.

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

Broadening the future internationally-agreed development goals to include proven economically-sound interventions that span the entire cancer control and care continuum can strengthen health systems and increase capacity to respond to all of the challenges to development.

The onus is now on the cancer community to push for cancer to be mainstreamed in the post-2015 development agenda.

myth04

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

Cancer is not just a health matter. It has wide-reaching social, economic and human rights implications, and is a significant barrier to achieving inclusive and equitable development. Inequality is deepening – social and environmental factors and the double disease burden of exposures in many low- and middle-income countries are keeping the ‘bottom billion’ locked in chronic poverty and threatening national economies.

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

Cost-effective interventions must be made available in an equitable manner through access to information and education about cancer at the primary health care level, as well as early detection programs and affordable, quality medicines, vaccines and technologies, delivered as part of national cancer control plans. 
Social protection measures, including universal health coverage, are essential to ensure that all individuals and families have full access to healthcare and opportunities to prevent and control cancer.

“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being”

–       The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

See (http://www.worldcancerday.org) for more information and all that is going on. This is where you can sign up for a ‘cancer free world’.

My Takeaway

Most impressive is the overall global organization of UICC. Who wouldn’t be jumping on the bandwagon to support their objectives? Hopefully they will do it without Madison Avenue-type marketing and purple washing!

My only question to the UICC IS:

WHY ISN’T EVERY DAY WORLD CANCER DAY? It should be!

WCD Goals

FYI: See my first blog post on whether The ‘Nation’ of Cancer is really The Fifth World!  http://www.thecancerian.org/2013/07/02/the-fifth-world-a-nation-called-cancer/

What do you think about all of this?

I am a 56-year-old woman living in California, and I have had multiple cancers. My daughter has had cancer. Many family members and friends have died of cancer and even more have been treated for it.

Everywhere I turn I know someone who knows a child just diagnosed, a sister, a father. You get the point!

The point is – is that CANCER is an epidemic!

THE INCIDENCE OF CANCER

Below is a map of global cancer incidence.

Cancer Incidence worldmap

(Source: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/world/the-global-picture/cancer-overall-world). To download PDF see http://publications.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/statsincidence/worldmap.html

I find it interesting that this website and chart present data from 2008. Where is the current data? It is now five years later. If I look at the World Health Organization’s website or the National Cancer Institute’s website, the information is from 2008 as well. I don’t want to allude to any conspiracy – but now living in the digital and information age, I have to wonder – isn’t this information important? Hopefully, there will be an update this year.

According to the Cancer Research Institute report:

“The incidence and mortality statistics presented here for cancers worldwide were taken from the International Agency for Research on Cancer GLOBOCAN database (version 1.2), which presents estimates for 2008 and also the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory and the United Nations World Population Prospects report.” Continue Reading…