Coming to its 23rd year, World Cancer Day is an annual event celebrated on the 4th of February that unites everyone across the world in the fight against cancer.
It was first launched in 2000 by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), which is the biggest and oldest international cancer organisation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is a leading cause of death globally, killing 10 million people every year. This significant initiative, led by the UICC, aims to increase awareness and improve education about cancer while pressuring governments and encouraging individuals to take action against this deadly disease.
The theme for World Cancer Day 2022 – 2024 is “Close the Care Gap”. This campaign, spanning three years, focuses on addressing the inequities in cancer care globally. Inequity is often affected by social factors, such as income, race, age, gender, geographical location, education, or lifestyle.
These factors can negatively impact the quality of cancer care that an individual can receive, which include services related to cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment. Eventually, it can lead to unfavourable health outcomes.
In 2022, the campaign focused on understanding and recognising the problem. One of the many key issues related to cancer care is the lack of awareness about cancer prevention.
Knowing that around one-third of cancer deaths are due to tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and alcohol consumption, initiatives such as raising awareness and providing education in addressing these preventable major cancer risk factors should be emphasised.
Another issue is a lack of awareness about early detection of cancer. For example, many people fear a cancer diagnosis so much that they avoid attending screening programmes, leading to potentially fatal consequences.
In recent years, social media platforms have allowed the rapid spread of myths and misinformation about cancer, leading to false beliefs and dangerous self-diagnosis practices.
For instance, misleading news articles and headlines about supposed cancer “cures” contribute to the widespread dissemination of false information about cancer, which can lead to negative health outcomes.
Additionally, another issue of concern is the need to address disparities in cancer care and outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged communities. For example, individuals from low-income backgrounds often face significant barriers to accessing quality health care, as many are unable to afford the expensive health care bills in their home countries.
Achieving progress in these areas can help to reduce the global burden of cancer and improve outcomes for those affected.
This year, as the campaign continues in 2023, the focus is on uniting our voices and taking action. Everyone is encouraged to come together and contribute to closing the cancer care gap, regardless of who they are and where they are from.
With every action taken, no matter how big or small, we believe that working together can make a difference in the lives of all those affected by cancer.
Most people believe that only governments, high level agencies, or those who work in health care can make a difference in the fight against cancer, however, this is not true. Everyone can and should contribute to this fight against cancer.
From arming yourself with reliable and credible knowledge, and sharing cancer knowledge with your family and friends, to organising cancer screening or fundraising events in your neighbourhood, there are many ways in which you can take a stance against cancer in conjunction with World Cancer Day 2023.
You can make a difference in closing the gap in cancer care. Let’s learn more information about what you can do to fight cancer from the National Cancer Society Malaysia’s (NCSM) “What can I do for World Cancer Day?” booklets. The booklets, which are available in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin, and Tamil, can be found on the NCSM Tun Abdul Razak Library website.
This article is written by Mahirah Ma’som, Dr Mah Wen Yi, Dr Jessica Anne Canute, Mohamad Ishak Ahmad Abir, Thaarenee Wiswannadan, Nariza Alysa Azryn, Chan Wan Thung, Mandy Thoo, Dr Murallitharan Munisamy, and Dr Saunthari Somasundaram from the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM).
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.