To mark World Cancer Day on 4 February, we wanted to share five key facts about the disease including measures you can take to prevent it. You can find out more about World Cancer Day and how to help support the fight against cancer here.
1) Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide – in 2015 approximately 1 in every 6 deaths was as a result of cancer. What’s more the rate of new cancer cases is on the rise, with the number of deaths per year related to cancer expecting to increase from 8.8 million today to 13 million by 2030.
2) Cancer is a non-communicable disease
Cancer is what is known as a non-communicable disease or NCD. This means it is a chronic disease that tends to be long term, and is a result of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors. NCDs differ from other illnesses as they are not caused by infectious agents and are therefore not contagious.
3) Some cancers are preventable
According to the World Health Organisation between 30-50% of cancers are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours. Eating healthily, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep have all been linked to reduced risk factors for cancer.
In particular smoking is considered to be the largest preventable cause of cancer in the world. More than 90% of all lung cancer cases are caused by smoking and 22% of all cancer deaths are due to lung cancer resulting from smoking, so avoiding tobacco really is one of the best ways to avoid cancer. If you’re having trouble quitting smoking, you can read our blog here for some top tips on how to give up for good.
4) Early detection is key
Early detection of cancer is key as spotting the signs early mean the treatment is more likely to be successful, helping to improve survival rates. It is therefore important to be aware of the warning signs and get regular screening.
Early warning signs of cancer can include lumps, sores that don’t heal, abnormal bleeding, persistent indigestion and chronic hoarseness, although there are many other factors depending on the type of cancer.
Some of the most common types of cancer include lung, liver, stomach, colorectal and prostate, as well as breast and cervical cancer in women. It’s therefore important for women to make sure they get regular breast and cervical exams, and men should also consider regular prostate and colon check-ups. There are also vaccinations available that can help to prevent cancer, such as a vaccine for the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus which is one of the major causes of cervical cancer.
5) Low and middle-income countries suffer the most
It is estimated that 70% of the world’s cancer deaths take place in low and middle income countries. This is due to a number of factors, including a low awareness of the symptoms, lack of screening and access to medical facilities, as well as the high cost of treatment. World Cancer Day aims to raise awareness of the disease and help to address some of these issues.
Visit the World Cancer Day website here to find out more about this important cause and how you can get involved.