World Cancer Day is about saving lives. Cancer kills 9.6 million people each year, more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. At our current pace, that number is projected to rise to 13 million deaths each year by 2030, and that is something we cannot allow to happen.
Feb. 4 is World Cancer Day – a day that empowers people around the world to take actions that can help save millions of lives in the coming years. Over the past two decades, people have come together on World Cancer Day to share ideas and set goals, and the hard work seems to be paying off, as more people each year beat cancer.
World Cancer Day celebrates this amazing progress but reminds us that there is a long way to go. More than half of all cancer deaths occur in developing nations. Raising awareness about cancer and supporting efforts in these parts of the world are a major part of the battle.
Even in developed countries, some communities may not have access to cancer screenings and treatment. This includes indigenous, immigrant, refugee, and low-income populations, as well as those who live in rural areas.
In America, thousands of hardworking people continue to develop cancer because their workplace is unsafe. Asbestos, talc, coal dust, silica dust and other toxins poison workers or end up in products that make consumers sick. The dangers of black lung and mesothelioma are well understood, however, incidence rates continue to rise for both diseases.
‘I Am, and I Will’ – This Year’s Theme
Since 2000, World Cancer Day has been observed every year on Feb. 4. The initiative is coordinated by Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). This year is the start of a three-year “I Am, and I Will” campaign, which empowers individuals to be a force of change within their community.
On the World Cancer Day website, people can find educational resources and information about cancer and how to take action. Last year, there were nearly 1,000 events in 137 countries, including gatherings, walks, rallies, seminars and a host of digital events.
If attending or hosting an event near you is not possible, there are other ways to get involved. People are encouraged to share their stories, and tools are available for creating a personal “I Am, and I Will” poster to take part in the fight against cancer and raise awareness.
The Long-Term Impact of Raising Awareness
One truth about cancer is that early detection and treatment saves lives. The best way to beat any cancer is to find it before it progresses.
By sharing stories on World Cancer Day, people all over the world are spreading knowledge about the deadliest disease known to mankind. Knowledge of cancer helps people make healthier decisions about their diet, physical activity and getting routine screenings.
It’s estimated that as many as 3.7 million lives could be saved each year by getting the right resources to people who need them. Many people live with cancer for years without realizing what they are up against. Someone may not know to look for cancer until it has progressed and caused painful symptoms – and by then it might be too late. This is why resources are crucial
Mesothelioma Kills People Decades After Exposure to Asbestos
Early diagnosis is particularly challenging for those with mesothelioma.
Many people who develop mesothelioma, a rare and lethal form of cancer, do not know they are at risk for decades. Mesothelioma occurs as a result of exposure to asbestos, and it can take as many as 10 to 50 years to develop. Since many of the early symptoms are similar to the flu and common cold, mesothelioma may grow inside the body undetected.
Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral that was used in many materials and products throughout the 20th century. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, and although 55 countries have banned asbestos, the United States has not.
One of the key components of World Cancer Day is the call for government action and accountability. Individuals are urged to press their government into action, “to dispel myths and misconceptions that nothing can be done on cancer.” For too long now, the U.S. government has acted like its hands are tied when it comes to carcinogenic hazards, like asbestos.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Asbestos is cheap and companies want to use it to keep costs down. The risk is simply not worth it. In a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that, “the number of malignant mesothelioma deaths has been increasing” despite some regulatory action.
Clearly more needs to be done.
This year’s World Cancer Day is an opportunity for all to step forward and make a difference – not just those whose lives have been affected by mesothelioma and other forms of cancer. Global efforts, and campaigns like World Cancer Day, give people the guidance, resources and hope for a better, cancer-free future.