'I Am and I Will', Theme of World Cancer Day

February 4, 2019

Cancer a disease as old as human civilization is today the world’s second leading cause of death after cardiac deaths. However, estimations are that in the coming years it will very soon be the leading cause of death and that the numbers will be more in developing countries like India where resources to treat cancer are scarce and people ignorant of the warning signs. In fact records suggest that India contributes to the highest numbers for head and neck and cervical cancer to the global statistics. In recognition of this grave fact facing mankind, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) has earmarked the World Cancer Day to be observed around the world on February 4 to work towards and make it a global health priority by emphasizing on raising awareness on cancer at national, international and multisectoral areas.

The UICC’s objective is to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration written in 2008 and the principal objective is to reduce the incidence of deaths due to cancer, to create an awareness in the community and to end cancer care disparities and misconceptions. World Cancer Day works on a theme with the three-year tagline for 2019 to 2021 'I am and I Will' acknowledges that everyone has the capacity to address the burden of cancer. The tag line is a call-to-action urging for personal commitment and represents the power of individual action taken impact the future. Emphasis is on 'I' can overcome barriers to early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care and to work together to improve cancer control and achieve global targets to reduce premature mortality from cancer. The aspects here with are:

How people can help themselves

1. Quitting smoking and staying away from tobacco smoke reduces the chance of cancer.
2. Drinking less alcohol can lower the risk for liver, breast, colorectal (colon), mouth, and throat cancers.
3. Keeping a healthy weight can reduce the chances of developing breast, colon, endometrial, prostate and ovarian cancers.
4. Knowing about signs and symptoms of cancer and practicing early detection guidelines. This is because early detection and timely treatment can cure many cancers fully.
5. Educating the parents to inculcate healthy life style in children and having the girl child vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV).

How people can help others

1. Social support is very important for cancer survivors. Support cancer patients and survivors with the physical and emotional impacts of cancer.
2. Survivors of cancer should educate themselves and others about the link between certain lifestyle behaviors – including smoking, poor diet, and lack of physical activity with the risk for cancer.
3. Survivors of cancer should help in dispelling rumors and myths that lead to stigma and discrimination against people with cancer in some communities.
4. Survivors of cancer should encourage schools and workplaces to implement nutrition, physical activity, and no smoking policies that help people adopt healthy habits for life.
5. Cancer survivors with the help of general public should call on government leaders to commit adequate resources to reduce deaths due to cancer and provide a better quality of life for patients and survivors.

Catching cancer early

1. Prevention is always better than cure and screening tests that can help find cancer early, is the easiest way to treat and cure many cancers.
2. Tobacco practitioners and alcohol drinkers should have a regular oral check up for early signs of cancer and seek immediate medical attention and care.
3. Women should start getting screened for cervical cancer at age 21.
4. It is strongly suggested that after the age of 20, a woman must do breast self examination every month, and must be evaluated by a clinician, at least once every two years till she attains 40 years of age. In addition to this, it is also recommended that women above 40 years undergo clinical examination and radiological imaging using mammogram every year. Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good.
5. Both men and women should get checked for colorectal cancer after the age of 50.
6. Smokers should quit and have a regular screening for lung cancer development.

Wellness after cancer

1. World cancer day also emphasizes on care of survivors of cancer. This is because there is a high chance that the person diagnosed with cancer can develop metastasis or a second cancer again. Efforts are to be made towards lowering the risk by quitting smoking, staying active, and seeking regular follow-up care from the doctor.
2. 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.
3. When possible, use work and other daily activities during and after cancer treatment as opportunities to maintain normality, routine, stability, social contact, and income.

By Dr Suresh Rao
Dr Suresh Rao is the chief of Radiation Oncology department at Mangalore Institute of Oncology (MIO) and is an expert in external-beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy.
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Comment on this article

  • ray, Mangalore

    Wed, Feb 06 2019

    Turmeric extract is the best medicine i believe for for prevention.

  • ray, Mangalore

    Wed, Feb 06 2019

    Both men and women should get checked for colorectal cancer after the age of 50.??? check up should be done not later than 30 as i am 38 and had colorectal stage-2 ...

  • DIVYA PRABHA VORKADY, Mangalore/Dubai

    Mon, Feb 04 2019

    Nice Article. You are so kind with your patients. You have given me the courage to fight cancer from the beginning and even now when it relapsed after six years. Thank you doctor for all your help. God bless you always.

  • Jennifer, Mangalore

    Mon, Feb 04 2019

    If Israel could find a faster cure to Cancer, why couldn't India ?

    Where do our budget funds go ? Awareness, precaution is for future - please save our present affected from the painstaking chemo therapies.

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Mon, Feb 04 2019

    We can only Pray ...

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