World Cancer Day, is an international day marked on February 4 to increase global awareness of cancer. It’s originated in 2000 at the first World Summit Against Cancer, which was held in Paris. At this meeting, leaders of government agencies; and cancer organizations from around the world signed the Charter of Paris Against Cancer; a document containing 10 articles that outlined a cooperative global commitment to improving the quality of life of cancer patients; and to the continued investment in and advancement of cancer research, prevention, and treatment.
Cancer awareness has become exceedingly important in the 21st century. While there have been numerous advancements in the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, factors that should contribute to the decline of the disease; the number of new cancer cases diagnosed each year has globally continued to increase. There were 8.1 million new cases diagnosed in 1990, 10 million in 2000, 12.4 million in 2021. The number of annual deaths worldwide from cancer has also increased from 5.2 million people in 1990 to 8.2 million people in 2012 to an estimated 9.6 million in 2018.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), if the incidence of cancer continues to grow at the reported rate, the number of deaths worldwide from cancer will increase to more than 16.3 million by 2040. However, also according to WHO, as many as 40 percent of deaths from cancer are preventable. As a result, raising awareness of cancer and health organizations around the world, has come to represent an annual reaffirmation of the importance of this goal.
The International Union Against Cancer (UICC)
The International Union Against Cancer (UICC); an organization dedicated to increasing global cancer awareness; coordinates World Cancer Day and is supported in this effort by WHO and other international organizations. These Day serves as a formal launching point for the declaration of new themes; and the release of new publications for the UICC’s World Cancer Campaign; which functions throughout the year and strives to raise cancer awareness; by forming partnerships with health and cancer institutions and by proposing educational activities and creating public service announcements.
Because more than 70 percent of deaths from cancer occur in economically less-developed countries, World Cancer Day and the Campaign have become important mechanisms for drawing attention to cancer preventing and treatment in these countries. For example, in Nicaragua, where access to cancer treatment centers was severely limited, world Cancer Day 2007 marked the beginning of an international collaboration designed to improve cancer-care resources within the country.
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