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All you need to know about World Cancer Day

Dr. BhavikaJan 17, 2024

Cancer is a scary word, one that has the power to turn your life upside down. We hear stories of people of all ages combating Cancer. Surgery, radiation, and long-term medication are events that people anticipate. But the constant uncertainty and fear that the disease may relapse at any time is something nobody can prepare for.

At this time, there is only one thing that people want: the best possible medical care. But what if that is not within reach? This is a reality for millions of people with Cancer around the globe. Owing to a lack of knowledge, financial constraints, or limited resources, many cases of Cancer are diagnosed late or treated inadequately.

Many people put themselves at risk not knowing that it can result in Cancer. The outcome is thousands of lives lost due to preventable Cancers. World Cancer Day, celebrated on the 4th of February each year, is an initiative to spread Cancer awareness in all corners of the world so that people can take timely action.




What is World Cancer Day all about?

You may think that dedicating one day to Cancer doesn’t seem like it will have any real impact considering the scale of the problem. However, it isn’t just about that one day. It’s about educating people about Cancer so they make healthier choices each day.

World Cancer Day initiatives such as “Get Personal” advocate the use of social media to spread messages linked with Cancer.

Last year alone, there were over 3,27,100 social media posts with the trending #WorldCancerDay and over 24,000 articles written in almost 70 different languages. There are a lot of other activities that involve everyone from qualified professionals to laypersons. 

Why is World Cancer Day celebrated on the 4th of February?

World Cancer Day is an initiative that began in Paris over two decades ago. The first World Summit Against Cancer was held on the 4th of September, 2000 where government agencies from across the globe signed a charter to work towards the betterment of Cancer patients.

Each year since then, people come together in hospitals, schools, parks, markets, and just about anywhere else to educate people on the role they can play in preventing Cancer. They also help collect funds to further Cancer research and offer services to people from lower socioeconomic classes. People who once thought Cancer was a death sentence now understand that a lot of Cancers can be treated and better yet, prevented.

The theme for World Cancer Day

A person diagnosed with Cancer would want the best care available, especially with the massive advances in treatment options. But without insurance, the financial burden related to treatment runs into lakhs. Money that not many can spend at the drop of a hat. Often people don’t have access to specialists or information about what Cancer even is. Patients also face discrimination because of their ethnicity, gender, age, or sexual orientation in many places in the world. This is why the theme for World Cancer Day 2022-2024 was announced as “Close the Care Gap”.

Cancer in India

The number of Cancer cases in India is on the rise and is projected to reach a staggering 29.8 million by the year 2025. This is a huge number. Even so, a lot of people at a high risk to develop Cancer know next to nothing about it. It’s difficult to access appropriate healthcare services when you don’t even know you need them. With Cancer being the second most common cause of death worldwide, the time for action is now. 

Risk factors linked with Cancer

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), a shocking 30 to 50% of Cancer cases are preventable. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common risk factors linked with Cancer.

  • Smoking: Tobacco chewing and smoking are both linked to multiple forms of Cancer.

  • Alcohol: When alcohol is broken down in the body, it releases products that can directly damage the DNA. The higher your alcohol intake, the higher the chances of developing a wide range of Cancers. 

  • Obesity and physical inactivity: We know that a sedentary lifestyle is not ideal, but did you know the consequences can be as serious as Cancer? If you too spend long hours hunched over the computer, have unhealthy eating habits, or are simply unable to lose weight, consult a professional to prevent complications.

  • Infections: The most common organism associated with Cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). The good news is India now has its own HPV vaccine CERVAVAC which will make protection against cervical Cancer more accessible.

  • Radiation: This includes the sun too. If you’re someone who spends long hours in the sun every day, it’s best to use protective measures such as a cap, scarf, sunglasses, and of course, sunscreen.

This doesn’t mean all Cancers can be prevented. But these small changes can be your first step. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of common questions and answers related to Cancer.

Can early diagnosis help cure Cancer?


It is very important to remember that if you do have a family history of Cancer, visit your doctor regularly for checkups. They might suggest periodic tests such as mammography or colonoscopy depending upon the type of Cancer.  The thought can be scary, but with early diagnosis, a lot of Cancers can be cured.

Does health insurance cover Cancer?


Yes, health insurance can cover Cancer depending upon the chosen coverage. One of the major challenges in Cancer care is the expense of the treatment. So choosing your health insurance carefully is very important. Your health insurance should cover the added expenses that come along with major illnesses such as Cancer.

What is the average cost of Cancer treatment in an Indian city?


The average cost of Cancer treatment is a minimum of 5 lakhs in any major city. The cost can run even higher depending on the extent of the disease.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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