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Seven Things You Need to Know about Cancer

Renee Despres

World Cancer Day, 2013, is a day to reflect on the global impact of cancer. This year, 7.6 million people around the world will die from cancer. Four million of them will be adults between the ages of 30 and 69 years; many others will be children. According to the The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 1.5 million of those people could be saved with better prevention and control programs and policies.

Dispelling Cancer Myths

On World Cancer Day, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and its members are urging the public and governments alike to speak out with one voice to dispel damaging myths and misconceptions on cancer. Under the theme “Cancer – Did you know?” individuals and communities are encouraged to shed light on four key cancer ‘myths’ and the corresponding ‘truth’ via the UICC World Cancer Day App. Download the App and play your part in reducing the unacceptable burden of cancer https://apps.facebook.com/world_cancer_day

Myth: Cancer is just a health issue
Truth: Cancer is not just a health issue. It has wide reaching social, economic, development and human rights implications

Myth: Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries
Truth: Cancer is a global epidemic, affecting all ages and socio-economic groups, with developing countries bearing a disproportionate burden

Myth: Cancer is a Death sentence
Truth: many cancers that were once considered a death sentence can now be cured and for many more people their cancer can now be treated effectively

Myth: Cancer is my fate
With the right strategies, at least 30% of cancer cases can be prevented based on current knowledge

Here are seven things you need to know about cancer and its global impact:

  1. Cancer can strike anyone, at any age. Cancer is often thought of as a disease of the elderly, and it is true that our risk of cancer goes up as we age. But cancer can affect anyone, of any age, gender, ethnicity, and income bracket.  In developing countries, about half of cancer cases are diagnosed in people 65 years or less.
  2. Cancer is linked to poverty. People who live in poverty are at higher risk of cancer. Cancer causes poverty by interrupting families’ income-earning activities; at the same time, the cost of cancer treatment pushes families further into poverty.
  3. More than one out of three cases of the most common cancer cases could have been prevented. You can reduce your risk of cancer in three steps:
    1. Eat a healthy diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fats, lean protein sources, and fiber.
    2. Maintain a healthy weight .
    3. Get about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking, running, bicycling, swimming, etc.) at least four times a week.
  4. Regular screenings can help catch cancer early enough that it can be cured.  Regular screenings are an essential part of  cancer control strategies, but many people in developing nations do not have access to simple, cost-effective screening tests.
  5. Cancer is growing fastest in developing countries. Nearly half (47%) of cancer cases and more than half (55%) of cancer deaths occur in less developed regions of the world.  If nothing is done to stop the trend, by 2030, cancer cases will increase by 81% in developing countries.
  6. Cancer is costly. Cancer costs individuals, families, communities, and societies. Cancer costs are estimated to reach USD 458 billion per year in 2030.
  7. Policy-level cancer prevention is cost effective. While individuals can make choices to reduce their risk of cancer, policy-level interventions are needed. For a cost of about USD 2 billion per year, countries around the world could implement cost effective strategies to address the common cancer risk factors: tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity. Global, regional and national policies and programmes are needed.

Want to learn more? In this moving video Vivienne Parry, OBE, tells the story of the researchers, patients, and families who have led the fight against cancer in the last 50 years. Set aside some time to learn about the incredible work that people are doing to combat this devastating disease:


For more information about the global impact of cancer, see www.worldcancerday.org


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