World Cancer Day

11/04/2024 | B MANOGNA REDDY

World Cancer Day:

World Cancer Day is observed annually on 4th February globally to raise awareness about cancer and promote prevention, early detection, treatment. This day has been spearheaded by Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) in conjunction with World Cancer Declaration written in 2008. The major aim of marking this day is to reduce significantly both sickness and deaths caused by cancers and it marks a chance when international society unites to eliminate preventable deaths due to cancers. It is marked at United Nations.

World Cancer Day

Theme of this year:

The 2022-2024 World Cancer Day theme is: ‘Close the Care Gap’. The inception year of the campaign was about understanding and appreciating the disparities in cancer care across the globe.

The second year aimed at celebrating progress made in various ways that allow more people to find necessary treatment options and get help.

In its final year, the campaign will involve raising awareness to a whole new level and expressing our concerns to our leaders. We would therefore call upon them to make cancer a priority, come up with innovative strategies for reducing disparities and invest in attaining a fairer world devoid of cancer. Thus we would urge leaders to eliminate health inequalities through addressing social determinants of health that foster them ensuring all access, quality health services wherever and whenever required.

Previous year themes:

  1. 2022 - 2024: “Close the care gap”
  2. 2019 - 2021: “I Am, and I Will”
  3. 2016 - 2018: “We can. I can”
  4. 2015: “Not Beyond Us”
  5. 2014: “Debunk the Myths”
  6. 2013: “Cancer Myths - Get the Facts”
  7. 2012: “Together let's do something”


The New Millennium Against Cancer was a world cancer summit held in Paris and established the World Cancer Day on 4 February 2000. The charter of Paris against cancer that was signed at the Summit also had an article as part of its content which specifically set aside the anniversary date for World Cancer Day, this piece was signed in Paris by Jacques Chirac (who then served as French President) and Kōichirō Matsuura (who then worked as the General Director of UNESCO), on February 4, 2000.

The importance of World Cancer Day lies in its ability to mobilize action and generate awareness about the impact of cancer on individuals, families, communities, and societies worldwide. It provides an opportunity to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of cancer, risk factors, and the importance of adopting healthy lifestyles to reduce cancer risk.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease which occurs when changes like mutations, damage etc., in a group of normal cells within the body lead to uncontrolled, abnormal growth forming a lump called a tumor; this is true of all cancers except leukemia (cancer of the blood). If left untreated, tumors can grow and spread into the surrounding normal tissue, or to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic systems, and can affect the digestive, nervous and circulatory systems or release hormones that may affect body function.

Cancer tumors can be divided into two groups:

  1. Benign tumors: These are not cancerous and rarely threaten life. They tend to grow quite slowly, do not spread to other parts of the body and are usually made up of cells quite like normal or healthy cells. They will only cause a problem if they grow very large, becoming uncomfortable or press on other organs - for example a brain tumour inside the skull.
  2. Malignant tumors: These are faster growing tumors. They can spread and destroy neighbouring tissue. Cells of malignant tumors can detach from the tumor (primary) and spread to other parts of the body through a process known as metastasis. They invade to a new site and they continue to divide and grow. These secondary sites are known as metastases and the condition is referred to as metastatic cancer.

Key Cancer Facts:

  1. Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death worldwide.
  2. Every year 10 million people die from cancer.
  3. More than 40% of cancer-related death could be preventable as they are linked to modifiable risk factors such as smoking, alcohol use, poor diet and physical inactivity.
  4. Almost at least one third of all deaths related to cancer could be prevented through routine diagnosis, screening, early detection and treatment.
  5. 70% of cancer deaths occur in low-to-middle income countries.
  6. The total annual economic cost of cancer is estimated at US$1.16 trillion.

Importance of the day:

World Cancer Day, an event that takes place around the world, is characterized by various initiatives and campaigns to empower cancer prevention and control. This can take the form of public awareness activities, fundraisers, informational conferences and forums meant for early diagnosis as well as influencing policies aimed at improving the accessibility of cancer treatment and support services. In the Americas there are an estimated 4 million people were newly diagnosed and 1.4 million people died from the disease in 2020. Approximately, 57% of new cancer cases and 47% of cancer deaths occurred in people 69 years of age and younger, in the prime of their lives.

This one-day global observance aims to encourage action across all sectors of society to curb the worldwide spread of cancer, improve rates of survival while enhancing the lives of those affected by this disease. For instance, World Cancer Day supports efforts to prevent, identify and manage cancers through creating awareness amongst all global citizens as well as promoting evidence-based policies/programmes which in turn contribute towards its prevention through a range of ways such as screening programmes etc.

Last modified on 11/04/2024


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