Julian Omidi reports on World Cancer Day 2013 and how it is being used to dispel myths and sterotypes. Julian Omidi focuses on how these myths and stereotypes often relate to the impoverished.
Today, February 4th, is World Cancer Day, which focuses primarily on one of eleven targets of the World Cancer Declaration: dispelling myths and misconceptions that are damaging to the understanding of cancer risks and risk groups.
The World Cancer Declaration is a tool designed by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to bring attention of the growing cancer crisis to health policymakers and government leaders in an effort to “reduce the global cancer burden by 2020.” Included in the declaration are 11 targets, which include:
- Ensure Effective Delivery Systems in All Countries
- Significantly Improve Measurement of Cancer Burden
- Decrease Tobacco, Alcohol Consumption, and Obesity
- Ensure Universal Coverage of the HPV/HBV Vaccine
- Dispel Damaging Myths and Misconceptions
With deaths caused by cancer accounting for more deaths than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined, cancer has become a significant issue worldwide. The specific goal of World Cancer Day is to focus on dispelling 4 common myths about cancer.
- Cancer Is Just a Health Issue – No one is denying that cancer is a health issue, but it directly relates to the abilities of individuals and nations in other areas as well. One of these areas is that of poverty, of which cancer can be both a cause and outcome. Between the negative impact that cancer can have on the ability of a family or individual to earn and the high costs of treatment for the disease, many people can be put into poverty as a result. Additionally, those in poverty often lack proper access to healthcare and education, which has been show to increase risk and morbidity for cancer.
- Cancer Is a Disease of the Wealthy, Elderly, and Developed Countries – Many people believe that cancer only affects developed, wealthy nations, but that is not the case. In 2008 more than 55% of the 7.6 million global deaths caused by cancer occurred in developing countries. In the case of cervical cancer for example, 85% of deaths from the disease occur in developing nations.
- Cancer Is a Death Sentence – While cancer certainly poses a significant danger to one’s life, developed nations have made great strides in treating cancer effectively; just in the US more than 12 million people are living with cancer, the reduction of mortality for breast and cervical cancer has been significant in the last several decades, and there are more cost-effective strategies for treatment than ever before. With commitment and work these same reductions can be seen in developing countries as well.
- Cancer is My Fate – Prevention is the best way toward reducing the global burden of cancer, specifically when it comes to lung cancer. By addressing tobacco use, which accounts for almost one-third of lung cancer deaths, the number of people that die or even contract cancer can be significantly lowered. In developing nations, addressing cancer-causing infections is the most important issue, including hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Help spread the message that while cancer may affect anyone in the world, it is neither a death sentence or fate for you or anyone you love. Share this article to your Twitter or Facebook profiles to spread knowledge of the facts, not the myths, behind cancer on World Cancer Day.
By Julian Omidi