Today, in the United States, there are 14 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths every single year. By 2030, these numbers are projected to increase to 21.7 million and 13 million, respectively. But tomorrow marks an annual campaign that aims to alter this bleak future.
Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States and affects everyone in various ways. The important thing, of course, is to stop cancer before it starts – which several research foundations and charities work hard to do. This February 4th represents another meaningful campaign in the fight against cancer: World Cancer Day.
Here’s what you should know.
What Is World Cancer Day?
Founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) in 2006, World Cancer Day takes place every February to raise awareness for cancer and cancer research. Ultimately, its goal is to reduce the cancer footprint in the world – in which everyone has a part to play. This year’s theme – “I can. We can.” – explores how we can take action both as individuals and as communities.
By exposing and addressing risk factors – such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, poor diet, physical inactivity and cancer-causing infections – one third of common cancers can be prevented. Another important risk factor to consider is the environment. What many people aren’t aware of are the harmful carcinogenic materials in the very air we breathe.
Cancers That Hit Us the Hardest
While the most frequent cancers affecting the country include lung, colorectal, breast, stomach and prostate, there are less common types with arguably more dreadful effects – simply because they have no cure.
One such cancer includes malignant mesothelioma, an asbestos-related disease of which there are more than 3,000 new diagnoses each year. Although this is a relatively small number compared to some other cancers, what’s tragic is mesothelioma is completely preventable. Yet, millions of Americans are at risk of developing the disease.
Mesothelioma is caused by inhalation or ingestion of asbestos. When airborne, this mineral is microscopic, but deadly. As little as one fiber can lodge in organ tissue, damaging cells and leading to irreversible cancer of the cells 10 to 50 years after exposure.
Those who worked in industries such as construction experienced a high risk of asbestos exposure and even today have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. Corporations interested only in financial gain have unforgivably kept the dangers of asbestos hidden. Exposing these companies and improving worker safety by securing a U.S. asbestos ban will be steps toward reduced cancer cases.
How to Get Involved
On World Cancer Day, it is important to draw attention to research into cancers such as mesothelioma and to show support for the day’s initiatives and awareness campaigns. Throughout Simmons Hanly Conroy’s history, we have pledged over $20 million to cancer research and support. Funds donated have benefited mesothelioma cancer research and asbestos prevention programs organized by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Simmons Cancer Institute, Miles for Meso and more.
On a personal level, there are several ways to prevent cancer, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly and talking to your doctor about possible environmental exposures. You can also take an active role in your community by, for example, helping to support national vaccination programs, advocating healthy lifestyle policies and taking legal action against companies that have endangered you or someone you know.