Every year on February 4, we observe World Cancer Day (WCD) to raise awareness and further educate the public on how to detect and combat cancer. The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) started WCD in 2000 and continues to call on global leaders to prioritize finding solutions. More than anything, WCD encourages awareness to battle cancer with prevention and early detection. Keep reading to get information everyone needs to know about this prevalent disease.
Each day this year an estimated 4,750 people will find out that a cancer diagnosis is a part of their new reality. That numbers grows infinitely when you consider the friends, family and supporters who rally together to defeat the multiple forms of the disease. With your support, the more than 1.7 million newly diagnosed patients can have the tools they need to overcome this devastating illness.
World Cancer Day is a time to remember those we've lost to this terrible disease, as well as to celebrate the lives of those who were diagnosed and ultimately won the battle against cancer. In honor of those who have lost their fight, which is projected to rise to 13 million from 8 million by 2030, we can all step forward to help raise awareness and ultimately, find a cure.
Although women will make up 99 percent of the more than 268,000 cases of breast cancer that will be diagnosed in 2018 (more than any other form of cancer), men who are diagnosed will have a higher mortality rate due to a lack of awareness. With an almost 100 percent survival rate when caught and treated between stages zero and one, regular self-exams and medical checkups for men and women can help with early detection and put an end to breast cancer deaths.
Cigarette smoke is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer in the world. The disease will claim an estimated 154,050 lives in 2018. Likewise, drinking alcohol is linked to an increase risk of throat, mouth, liver, breast and colorectal cancers. This World Cancer Day, take action to stop smoking, limit your alcohol intake and encourage others to live a healthy lifestyle.
In 2018, an estimated 234,000 new cases of lung and bronchus cancer will be diagnosed and, of those cases, a shocking 154,050 are expected to die—making this cancer one of the most lethal. Although more cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, the mortality rate of lung cancer makes awareness of the signs and symptoms especially important. A nagging cough, hoarseness, shortness of breath and bloody sputum are all signs you need to see a doctor.
Odds are, you will be affected by cancer either directly or indirectly, since densely populated states like California, Florida, Texas and New York are predicted to have the highest cancer rates in 2018. However, this ruthless illness doesn't prefer any particular region, with countries like Denmark, South Korea and Australia on the global top 10 list for highest cancer rates.
With the chances of one in every eight women being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, World Cancer Day should be a time to assess your risk factors. Focus on cutting back on things that increase your chances of a diagnosis, like alcohol consumption and excess weight. Other contributing factors, like family medical history, are out of your control, but regular exams can help with early detection and potentially save your life.
Prostate cancer is even more common in men than breast cancer is in women. With one in every seven men diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, annual checkups are crucial to the lifelong health of our husbands, fathers and brothers. Encourage the men in your life to get routine exams (and make the doctor's appointment for them, if necessary).
Until the 18th century, researchers believed that cancer was spread through a contagious parasite. It wasn't until the '60s that scientists learned how cells mutated to become cancerous. Even with today's technology, cancer has no cure and some rare forms have little to no treatment. This year, use World Cancer Day to donate to reputable organizations that aid in cancer research so that one day (hopefully, soon), we can wipe out the disease for good.
A gene-editing tool called CRISPR is proof that current research is leading to progress in solving the mystery of cancer. CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats) uses special proteins to cut, copy and paste DNA, effectively rewriting it to exclude cancerous viruses. In 2018, researchers will test this breakthrough treatment on human cancer patients, leading the way for more personalized, targeted treatments.
Living with cancer is a fight for survival and it helps to understand the chances of beating the disease. Survival rates are usually given in 5-year increments and per stage of diagnosed cancer. For instance, women diagnosed early on with Stage 1 breast cancer may have close to 100 percent chance of survival within the first 5 years, with treatment. Educate yourself this World Cancer Day on the survival statistics, in case you or a loved one ever has to deal with cancer.
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, it not only affects them, but everyone who loves them. A community of support is critical for patients, as well as their friends and family. With organizations like the Cancer Support Community, there are centers available nationwide, free of charge to those affected by cancer, including the loved ones of patients. Find health and wellness programs and educational sessions, along with support groups in these sanctuaries.
Not only is cancer treatment limited in more poverty-stricken areas around the world, but other life-threatening diseases are often prevalent, leading to a high mortality rate well below the average human life span. Many people who live in the world's poorest cities have limited (if any) access to lifesaving medical care and need our help to give them, and their families, the opportunity to fight cancer and bring hope to their communities.
World Cancer Day is the perfect reason to change our unhealthy habits. There are risk factors for cancer that we have control over, such as tanning, smoking, drinking and poor dietary choices. Vaccinations and annual screenings play a significant part in preventing cancer, as well as catching it early (when recovery is most likely). Focus on living a healthy lifestyle to help prevent cancer and promote longevity.
The sad truth is, cancer has no age boundaries. Certain cancers, like bone cancer and leukemia, are more commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents. The American Cancer Society offers guidelines on what tests are OK to ask your physician for at any age for the earliest possible detection. The best chances of beating cancer is to catch it in the beginning stages and immediately begin treatment.
One of the greatest things you can do to help this World Cancer Day is to donate. Even with the best insurance coverage, the cost of cancer is an expense most patients cannot afford on their own. Survivors are burdened with high debts and taxpayers spend over $80 billion annually on cancer treatments. Contributing to nonprofit organizations helps lift the financial burden off survivors, patients, their loved ones and the nation.
The survival rates for certain cancers, when caught in early stages, are exceptionally high. Thyroid, melanoma and breast cancers have close to a 100 percent survival rate when treated within the first 5 years. Knowing facts like this can take cancer's power away and prepare you or someone you love fight the disease with all they've got. World Cancer Day is about awareness of treatment as much as it is about diagnoses.
Over the past 27 years, deaths related to cancer have consistently declined. Thanks to decreased tobacco use and awareness of early detection and treatment, cancer deaths have fallen by a total of 26 percent since 1991. With an estimated 2.4 million lives saved because of initiatives like World Cancer Day, we are on our way to seeing the end of cancer.
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