World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. World Cancer Day is led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008. The primary goal of World Cancer Day is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer and is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer.
The day is observed by the United Nations. World Cancer Day targets misinformation, raises awareness, and reduces stigma. Multiple initiatives are run on World Cancer Day to show support for those affected by cancer. One of these movements are #NoHairSelfie, a global movement to have “hairticipants” (participants who willingly shave their head for the cause) shave their heads either physically or virtually to show a symbol of courage for those undergoing cancer treatment. Images of participants are then shared all over social media. Hundreds of events around the world also take place. Now , what exactly is cancer?
Cancer is a broad term. It describes the disease that results when cellular changes cause the uncontrolled growth and division of cells. Some types of cancer cause rapid cell growth, while others cause cells to grow and divide at a slower rate. Certain forms of cancer result in visible growths called tumors, while others, such as leukemia, do not. Most of the body’s cells have specific functions and fixed lifespans.
While it may sound like a bad thing, cell death is part of a natural and beneficial phenomenon called apoptosis. A cell receives instructions to die so that the body can replace it with a newer cell that functions better. Cancerous cells lack the components that instruct them to stop dividing and to die. As a result, they build up in the body, using oxygen and nutrients that would usually nourish other cells. Cancerous cells can form tumors, impair the immune system and cause other changes that prevent the body from functioning regularly. Cancerous cells may appear in one area, then spread via the lymph nodes. These are clusters of immune cells located throughout the body.
There are many causes of cancer, and some are preventable. For example, over 480,000 people die in the U.S. each year from smoking cigarettes, according to data reported in 2014. In addition to smoking, risk factors for cancer include: heavy alcohol consumption, excess body weight, physical inactivity, poor nutrition. Other causes of cancer are not preventable. Currently, the most significant unpreventable risk factor is age.
World Cancer Day every 4 February is the global uniting initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). By raising worldwide awareness, improving education and catalysing personal, collective and government action, we’re working together to reimagine a world where millions of preventable cancer deaths are saved and access to life-saving cancer treatment and care is equal for all – no matter who you are or where you live. Created in 2000, World Cancer Day has grown into a positive movement for everyone, everywhere to unite under one voice to face one of our greatest challenges in history.
Each year, hundreds of activities and events take place around the world, gathering communities, organisations and individuals in schools, businesses, hospitals, marketplaces, parks, community halls, places of worship – in the streets and online – acting as a powerful reminder that we all have a role to play in reducing the global impact of cancer. This year’s World Cancer Day’s theme, ‘I Am and I Will’, is all about you and your commitment to act.
We believe that through our positive actions, together we can reach the target of reducing the number of premature deaths from cancer and non communicable diseases by one third by 2030.Join us on 4 February and speak out and stand up for a cancer-free world. Our time to act is now.