World Cancer Day

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On February 4, CDC joined organizations around the world in supporting World Cancer Day to promote ways to reduce the burden of cancer. Each year globally, 12.7 million people learn they have cancer, and 7.6 million people die from the disease.

A Global Concern

More people die from cancer than from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. The World Health Organization projects that without immediate action, the global number of deaths from cancer will increase by nearly 80% by 2030, with most occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

worldcancerday_355pxResearch suggests that one-third of cancer deaths can be avoided through prevention. Although proven ways to prevent cancer exist, these services and technologies are not widely available in low- and middle-income countries.

At the United Nations Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases in September 2011, leaders from more than 120 countries declared non-communicable diseases, including cancer, a global priority and committed to taking action to address them. The WHO has since taken the lead in developing a global monitoring  framework Adobe PDF file [PDF-101KBExternal Web Site Icon ] for non-communicable diseases, which includes new cancer cases and cancer deaths, cervical cancer screening, and vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B.

While most of CDC’s cancer programs focus on the United States, CDC is also working on projects to prevent and control cancer around the world. For example, CDC is working with the Pan-American Health Organization to train health care providers in Latin America to screen for cervical cancer using low-cost technologies. CDC also has partnered with the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the Union for International Cancer Control, and other organizations to create the Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (GICR).External Web Site Icon GICR is helping countries produce reliable information on the burden of cancer so that effective cancer control policies can be developed and implemented.

You Can Reduce Your Risk for Cancer

The number of new cancer cases can be reduced, and many cancer deaths can be prevented. Research shows that screening for cervical and colorectal (colon) cancers as recommended helps prevent these diseases by finding precancerous lesions so they can be treated before they become cancerous. Screening for cervical, colorectal, and breast cancers also helps find these diseases at an early, often highly treatable stage.

A person’s cancer risk can be reduced by avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol use, avoiding excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active.

Vaccines also help reduce cancer risk. The HPV vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and many vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers, and the hepatitis B vaccine can help reduce liver cancer risk.

Cancer Prevention Starts in Childhood

You can also reduce your children’s risk of getting many types of cancer later in life. Start by helping them adopt a healthy lifestyle with good eating habits and plenty of exercise to keep a healthy weight. Then follow these tips to help prevent specific types of cancer—

  • Most skin cancers can be prevented if children and teens (and adults, too) are protected from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Kids don’t have to be at the beach to get too much sun. Their skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays whenever they’re outdoors.
  • HPV, a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex, is the main cause of cervical cancer. It also causes many vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers. A vaccine to prevent HPV infections is recommended routinely for 11- and 12-year-old girls and boys. The vaccine also is recommended for girls and women aged 13 through 26 years and boys and men aged 13 through 21 years who did not get any or all of the shots before. The vaccine can be given beginning at age 9.
  • The best way to prevent lung cancer is to not start smoking, or quit if you do smoke. In 2009, one in five high school students was a current smoker. Smoke from other people’s cigarettes (“secondhand” smoke) also can cause lung cancer. Talk to your children about why you don’t want them to smoke, and don’t expose them to secondhand smoke.

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