By Stacy Simon
Thursday, February 4th is World Cancer Day, when organizations and individuals around the world unite to raise awareness about cancer and work to make it a global health priority. Every year more than 8 million people die from cancer worldwide.
One of the most visible events marking the occasion in the United States will be in New York, where the Empire State Building will be lit blue and orange for the sixth year in a row. The colors are those of the Union for International Cancer Control, which organizes World Cancer Day. Around the world, communities will hold festivals, walks, seminars, public information campaigns and other events to raise awareness and educate people on how to fight cancer through screening and early detection, through healthy eating and physical activity, by quitting smoking, and by urging public officials to make cancer issues a priority.
This year, and through 2018, the theme of World Cancer Day is “We can. I can,” to explore how everyone – together and individually – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. The campaign outlines actions that communities and individuals can take to save lives by achieving greater equity in cancer care and making fighting cancer a priority at the highest political levels.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices that include avoiding tobacco, getting plenty of physical activity, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, and staying safe in the sun.
- Learn about signs and symptoms of cancer and early detection guidelines because finding cancer early often makes it easier to treat.
- Support cancer patients and survivors with the physical and emotional impacts of cancer even after treatment ends.
- Share stories about their own cancer experiences, communicate with decision-makers, and join support groups to help make positive change for all people affected by cancer.
- When possible, return to work after cancer treatment to restore normality, routine, stability, social contact, and income.
- Call on governments to commit adequate resources to reduce cancer deaths and provide a better quality of life for patients and survivors.
- Educate people about the link between lifestyle behaviors – including smoking, poor diet, and lack of physical activity – and cancer risk.
- Dispel myths that lead to stigma and discrimination against people with cancer in some communities.
- Encourage schools and workplaces to implement nutrition and physical activity policies that can help people to adopt healthy habits for life.
- Improve access to affordable cancer health care for all populations.