News-Medical speaks to Cary Adams, CEO of the charity that helped to start the annual World Cancer Day, about the reasons why cancer is still such a huge global issue, and the meaning behind the slogan: I Am And I Will.
How big of a global issue is cancer?
Unfortunately, cancer is still one of the largest public health issues facing our world today. Last year, we saw an estimated 18.1 million new cases of cancer as well as 9.6 million cancer deaths – 70% of which occurred in developing countries.
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At the current rate, deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to reach over 13 million by 2030. That’s simply unacceptable. We must continue to push for substantive change at the global and national level to significantly reduce the burden of cancer now to improve our future.
What are the greatest barriers to early cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention around the world?
There are significant barriers at the health system and governmental level which prevent millions of people around the world from accessing effective prevention information, early diagnosis, and better treatment. At the individual level, factors including age, gender, socioeconomic status, and feelings of fear or shame can prevent help-seeking behavior when someone might suspect cancer.
Health systems with limited access to pathology services and diagnostic technologies can also be disadvantaged when it comes to delivering timely cancer diagnoses and treatment, particularly in low-income countries.
We’re also still seeing inconsistencies between the ambitious commitments to tackle cancer being made by governments and the demonstratable action being taken to put in place effective and resource appropriate policies to boost cancer prevention, improve early detection and diagnosis rates, and ensure the best possible treatment and care.
Why did UICC decide to start a World Cancer Day?
When World Cancer Day was created at the World Summit Against Cancer in Paris, on 4 February 2000, its goal was to provide a platform for researchers, healthcare professionals, patients, government, industry, individuals and the media to build an invincible alliance against cancer and its greatest allies - fear, ignorance and complacency.
Today, World Cancer Day continues to unite the whole world to raise awareness and education about cancer, as well as to inspire governments and empower individuals across the world to take action.
The theme of the next three World Cancer Days is I Am and I Will. Please can you explain the meaning of this message, and how people can get involved in the campaign?
The new World Cancer Day theme is a rallying cry for action. ‘I Am and I Will’ turns the spotlight on each and everyone one of us and our own commitment and actions. As cancer affects all of us, we also have the power to reduce its impact on ourselves, the people we love and the wider world.
Anyone can get involved by sharing their personal commitments on social media, hosting an awareness event, writing a blog, lighting up a significant landmark, or volunteering to translate campaign materials.
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What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer?
People often feel a loss of their sense of control over their own lives when they first receive a diagnosis of cancer. I would say that someone that has just been diagnosed with cancer should feel empowered to participate actively in decisions about their care and treatment. Many cancers can be managed and even cured, especially if they’re detected and treated as early as possible.
What projects will UICC be focusing on after World Cancer Day?
We’ll be looking to expand our Treatment for All advocacy campaign which calls on governments to turn their commitments to reduce the cancer burden into national action. We’ll also be looking forward to the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit 14-16 October 2019 in Kazakhstan, where the aim will be to better understand how cancer detection, treatment, and care can be scaled up to fit within the global ambition of universal health coverage.
Where can readers find more information?
You can find out more about the UICC and our key events by visiting our website, or to find out more about World Cancer Day, click here.
About World Cancer Day 2019
World Cancer Day takes place every year on 4 February and is the uniting global initiative under which the world comes together to raise the profile of cancer in a positive and inspiring way. Spearheaded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and improving education about the disease alongside calling on governments and individuals across the world to take action.
2019 will be the first year of the new three-year campaign, ‘I Am and I Will’. The new theme is an empowering call for personal commitment and represents the power of our actions taken now to reduce the growing impact of cancer. This year follows on the back of last year’s tremendous campaign success, including nearly 1,000 activities taking place in 130 countries, over half a million tweets, and more than 50 governments participating in 2018.
About the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)
The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is the largest and oldest international cancer-fighting organisation. Founded in Geneva in 1933, UICC has over 1,100 members in 170 countries, enjoys consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC) and has official relations with the following institutions: WHO, IARC, IAEA, UNODC. UICC has over 50 partners, including associations working to fight cancer, as well as companies and foundations. UICC is a founding member of the NCD Alliance, McCabe Centre and ICCP.
UICC’s mission is to unite and support the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equality and to ensure that the cancer control continues to be a priority in the world health and development agenda. Its main areas of activity focus on convening the world's leaders for innovative, wide-reaching, cancer-control events and initiatives; building capacity to meet regional needs; and developing awareness campaigns.