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World Cancer Day

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is the largest and oldest international cancer organization dedicated to reducing the global cancer burden.  For the past 20 years, February 4th has been World Cancer Day.  It is a day to bring the world's attention to cancer and its impact around the world, the need for investment in research and innovation in the field of cancer treatment and helping people to understand cancer.  Access to information and knowledge about cancer can empower us all.  
World Cancer DayWhat is the most common type of cancer?
Breast cancer has recently overtaken lung cancer as the most common type of cancer.  Breast cancer accounted for nearly 12% of new cancer cases this past year worldwide, with an estimated 2.3 million new cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  This is the first time that breast cancer has been the most commonly occurring cancer globally.  
Lung cancer was the most common type of cancer for the last 20 years but is now in second place.  Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer globally.
What are the risk factors for cancer?
Of course, different types of cancer have different risk factors, but many of the risk factors are the same for different cancers.  According to the WHO, around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the following risk factors:
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity or high body mass index
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Alcohol use
What are the impacts of cancer in the world?
Each year, 10 million people die from cancer worldwide.  Almost 20 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed last year.  As the global population grows and life expectancy increases, cancer is expected to become more common.  Experts expect cancer deaths to rise to 13 million per year by 2030, and the total number of new cancer cases diagnosed to rise to 30 million by 2040.
How has the pandemic affected cancer?
Due to the change in the use of healthcare resources and the temporary hold on elective procedures in many hospitals, as well as people's fears about going to the doctor during the pandemic, cancer diagnosis has decreased.  Those cancers are surely still out there, but we just haven't found them yet.  The pandemic has also disrupted cancer treatment in many countries.  Delays in testing to complete diagnosis and delays in surgery or chemotherapy have had a big impact on cancer treatment.
Cancer research has also been slowed, or even stopped in some cases, due to the pandemic.  We need ongoing research to help find new treatments.
What can we do about it?
More than one third of cancer cases are preventable!  Another third can be cured if detected early and treated promptly and properly.  If we can implement the appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection, and treatment, we could save up to 3.7 million lives every year.
When we educate ourselves about cancer, we can make a difference.  
  • Find out when you should start cancer screening and follow through with those screenings.  
  • Remind your family members to get their mammogram and their colon cancer screening when it is due.  
  • Be more physically active on a regular basis.
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Try to maintain a body mass index below 30, preferably below 26.
  • Limit alcohol use.
Follow the links below for more information:
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Dr. Anita Bennett MD - Health Tip Content Editor
 
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