The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com is among the many organizations today that are observing World Cancer Day 2013, demonstrating the growing importance of advocacy in a global fight against this dreaded disease.
Today’s World Cancer Day is an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), which announced Monday its latest goal of preventing 1.5 million deaths annually from the disease.
The UICC, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland, estimates that 7.6 million people worldwide die each year from cancer. It also believes that one-third of those deaths are preventable.
Although a recent report by the American Cancer Society detailed a slow but steady decline in cancer rates in the U.S., the UICC believes that current rates on a global scale will double within the next 20 to 40 years without the proper measures in place.
“There is need for a global commitment to help drive advancements in policy and encourage implementation of comprehensive cancer control plans,” said Dr. Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. “We have a collective responsibility to support low and middle income countries that are tackling a cancer epidemic with insufficient resources.”
Asbestos Considered a Top Workplace Hazard
Asbestos-related diseases, which kill an estimated 100,000 people each year, are expected to increase in many of those still-developing countries. Among the diseases are mesothelioma, a slow-developing cancer that attacks the lining around the lungs and other vital organs.
Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, has been banned in more than 50 countries, but its use has increased in others because of its versatility, affordability and heat-resistant qualities that still make it desirable for commercial use.
The UICC considers asbestos as one of its top cancer-causing, workplace hazards. And one of its goals of World Cancer Day is the continued emphasis on raising awareness toward preventable cancers like mesothelioma and the dangers from asbestos fibers.
There were 442 World Cancer Day Events scheduled globally for Feb. 4 and registered with the UICC, which includes 156 countries and many of the major cancer societies, research institutes and patient groups.
Various communities held events both big and small, including informational campaigns, seminars, film screenings and educational meetings involving simple things like healthier eating and trying to stop smoking.
In the U.S., there were events scheduled from coast to coast. One of the most visible was in New York City, where the landmark Empire State Building was decorated and lit in blue and orange lights, reflecting the colors of the UICC.
Debunking Cancer Myths
As part of World Cancer Day, the UICC also adopted the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “25 by 25” campaign. The goal is for a 25 percent reduction of premature cancer deaths by the year 2025. Based upon the projection of 6 million preventable cancer deaths that year, the UICC set its goal on that 1.5 million figure.
“This World Cancer Day, its members and partners urge everyone from individuals to governments to take a stand against damaging myths on cancers,” said UICC CEO Cary Adams. “By truly understanding this deadly disease, governments can develop appropriate strategies to reduce premature deaths.”
Adams pointed to four major myths (and truths behind them) that have held back the reduction of cancer:
- Myth 1: Cancer is just a health issue. Truth: Cancer has wide-reaching, economic, social and human-rights implications.
- Myth 2: Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries. Truth: Cancer is a global epidemic, affecting everyone regardless of socio-economic standing, and with still-developing countries carrying a disproportionate burden.
- Myth 3: Cancer is a death sentence. Truth: Many cancers now can be cured and others can be treated effectively, allowing people to extend their lives significantly.
- Myth 4: Cancer is inevitable. Truth: At least 30 percent of cancers can be prevented with the right strategies and the current knowledge.