This year’s World Cancer Day campaign focuses on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: Dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer, under the tagline “Cancer – Did you know?” World Cancer Day is a chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge on cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease.
The global cancer epidemic is huge and set to rise. Every year, nearly eight million people die of cancer and many of these deaths can be avoided with increased governmental support and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programmes. Unless urgent action is taken, millions of people will continue to die.
The World Cancer Declaration’s Target 6 – prevention through early detection and screening
Among key elements in tackling the unacceptable burden of cancer are detection and prevention. One in every three cancer cases could be prevented and spreading the word through World Cancer Day is the ideal opportunity to help decrease these numbers for the sake of future generations.
Target 6 calls for many more cancers to be encompassed in screening and early detection programmes and call on the public and professionals to raise their awareness about important cancer warning signs, which will be instrumental in achieving early diagnosis. As will the promotion of increased access to cost-effective cancer screening programmes and continued investment in and resourcing for them by governments. In addition, as the informed public we must encourage individuals and communities to also inform themselves and take steps to reduce their chances of getting cancer, whether via lifestyle changes, recognition of symptoms, or regular check-ups.
Reducing the global cancer burden by 2020
In 2008, UICC developed the World Cancer Declaration as a tool to help bring the growing cancer crisis to the attention of government leaders and health policymakers. The 11 Declaration targets, designed to significantly reduce the global cancer burden by 2020, have played an integral part in guiding UICC’s global advocacy efforts.
The Declaration, with more than 500,000 signatories, has been instrumental in generating political will for cancer control targets both at international policy and grassroots levels. It represents a consensus between government officials, public health experts and cancer advocates from around the world who are committed to eliminating cancer as a life threatening disease for future generations.
In September 2011, 193 member states of the United Nations adopted the Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs); providing the global cancer community with endorsement for advocacy campaigns to ensure World Cancer Declaration targets are met.
To achieve real progress towards the 11 targets of the World Cancer Declaration, we must continue to work together to mobilise our collective resources and maintain pressure on governments to implement the commitments made in the Political Declaration on NCDs. A key action is to understand and communicate to others the promises made by governments on cancer in the Political Declaration and how they are linked to the World Cancer Declaration targets.
President of Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)