It is World Cancer Day! Theme “Create a World Without Cancer, the Time to Act is Now”

The global cancer community will commemorate World Cancer Day on Monday, February 4, with the theme ”Create a World Without Cancer, the Time to Act is Now”.

This year the World cancer event is occurring a few months after the approval of the Regional Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of Cervical by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Directing Council I September 2018. This resulted in a resolution and commitment by the Member States to reduce cervical cancer prevalence and mortality.

Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms.

One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs, the latter process is referred to as metastasizing.

PAHO’s focus for 2019 is on cervical cancer which is preventable. It is one of the most common cancers among women in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its primary cause is the infection with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV). The HPV vaccine and the screening and treatment of precancerous lesions can prevent cervical cancer.

World Cancer Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and draw attention to the fact that everyone – individually and collectively – can help to prevent and control cancer.

Every year Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), as part of its annual calendar of observances, highlights and creates awareness about health matters. CPS would like to draw the community’s attention to World Cancer Day.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. The most common causes of cancer death are cancers of: Lung (1.69 million deaths), Liver (788 000 deaths), Colorectal (774 000 deaths), Stomach (754 000 deaths), and Breast (571 000 deaths).

Cancer can be prevented and controlled by implementing evidence-based strategies for cancer education, prevention, screening and early detection, treatment and palliative care.

The most common modifiable risk factors for cancer, which are shared with many other non-communicable diseases, are: Tobacco use including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco; Low fruit and vegetable intake; Harmful use of alcohol; Lack of physical activity; Being overweight and obese; Chronic infections from human papilloma virus (HPV) which is sexually transmitted -for cervical cancer, hepatitis B and C – for liver cancer, and H.pylori – for stomach cancer; ionizing and ultraviolet radiation; Urban air pollution; and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.

Tobacco use is the single most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer-related deaths globally.

To prevent cancer, avoid the risk factors. It is estimated that 30–50 percent of cancers can be prevented by reducing these risk factors. Many other cancer types, notably cervical, breast and colorectal cancer can be detected early and treated effectively through organized screening and early detection programs, and access to timely cancer treatment.

Reach out to local civic groups to learn more about detecting and preventing cancer, as well as to volunteer in working along to achieve their goals and objectives and spread the word to family and friends.