World Cancer Day has unifying goal

 

DOVER –– Since its establishment in 2000 by the Union for International Cancer Control, World Cancer Day has been celebrated globally every Feb. 4 to promote awareness about cancer and garner support for those affected by the disease.

“It’s a time when organizations and individuals around the world come together to raise awareness to make cancer a global health priority,” said Theresa Young, senior marketing director for the American Cancer Society’s Delmarva chapter.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for 8.2 million deaths per year and according to UICC, one-third of cancer cases can be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes. The top recommended lifestyle changes include quitting smoking, adopting a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly and reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

“World Cancer Day is an opportunity for us to urge individuals to take action with not only their personal health but with their community as well,” Ms. Young said.

The ACS suggests one way to make an impact on the community is to call or write to state health organizations and legislators to encourage them to do more to promote cancer awareness and to better represent patients when it comes to screening and access to care.

Taking both personal and community measures for cancer awareness embodies World Cancer Day’s theme of “I can. We can.”

The ACS is just one of 900 organizations across 155 countries that participates in the UICC initiative and participates alongside the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes, treatment centers and patient groups.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to come together with people all over the world,” Ms. Young.

But participating in World Cancer Day isn’t the only way the ACS is involved in cancer awareness on a global level.

“A lot of people don’t realize we have a university that allows us to stay in close communication with global organizations throughout the year as well,” Ms. Young said.

The ACS’ “university” hosts conferences where researchers from all over the world share information and new findings to improve diagnosis and treatment in their respective countries or regions.

“It’s a way to ensure that organizations are able to learn and spread the benefits of that knowledge to their constituents,” Ms. Young said.

Currently, 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years) and UICC expects the epidemic to continue growing. Global cancer cases are estimated to increase from 14.1 million per year in 2012 to 19.3 million cases per year in 2025.

But through initiatives like World Cancer Day, the UICC has formed a goal to reduce premature deaths from cancer by 25 percent by 2025 –– a challenge that can only be met with an outpouring of support from both individuals and organizations.

For more information about World Cancer Day and what you can do to help the effort, visit worldcancerday.org.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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