SAN DIEGO – World Cancer Day is celebrated around the world every February 4. Established by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and observed by the United Nations, the purpose of World Cancer Day is to heighten awareness of the significantly high prevalence of cancer throughout the world and to help eliminate human suffering caused by this dreaded malady.
According to the Wold Health Organization (WHO), 17 people world-wide die every minute from cancer.
Recognizing World Cancer Day
“I can, we can” is the theme for 2020 World Cancer Day. It conveys the hope that together we can help remove barriers to prevention, screenings, early detection and early diagnosis.
In particular, experts regard early detection as a critical element for saving lives. Early detection involves scheduling recommended cancer screenings. These screenings target large numbers of the population and frequently detect precancerous indications and early cancers before they metastasize.
The following American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer address the Society’s top screening and testing recommendations for the most commonly known forms of cancer as they relate to sex and age :
- Women age 40 to 54: Annual mammograms.
- Women 55 and older: Annual mammograms or every 2 years, continuing throughout life if anticipated to live 10 or more years or longer.
Colon and Rectal Cancer
- Women and Men age 45 until age 85: Regular annual screenings (which can be stool-based) and / or via physical exam (which may include a colonoscopy).
- Young women age 21 through 29: Pap test every 3 years.
- Women age 30 and 65: Pap test and HPV screen every 5 years
- Women over age 65: No screening if the patient has experienced normal prior results or who has had a hysterectomy.
- Women: At the time of menopause, consult with a qualified health care provider.
- Women and Men: Recommended for all between age 55 to 74 years of age who currently smoke, have quit smoking in the past 15 years, or have a 30-pack per year smoking history. Because these individuals are considered to be high cancer risk, the Society reecommends that they schedule a yearly lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scan .
- Men age 50 and over: Upon discussion and recommendations by a qualified health care provider, the Society recommends a PSA (blood test) with or without rectal exam.
- Early detection is another method for reducing poor cancer-related outcomes. Based on experiencing symptoms, early detection generally includes an awareness by the patient or physician that a health problem likely exists. Moreover, early detection becomes more likely when sufficient public information and education about disease identification and treatment options are available. Awareness enables proactivity and, if necessary, corrective action.
The difficulty of detecting and dealing with this type of cancer is that patients or their physicians detect prostate cancer symptoms at later stages of disease development. As with other types of cancer, this reduces the opportunity for achieving successful outcomes, reducing suffering and preserving life.
Genetic, environmental, dietary and other factors influencing cancer development
Though a variety of genetic and environmental factors can induce cancer development, all of us have the opportunity to undertake preventive measures.
Many commonly known and easy to understand cancer prevention recommendations include not smoking, consuming alcohol in moderation, following a low-fat diet, exercising at least moderately, consuming low-salt and low-sugar foods as well as fruits and vegetables, getting plenty of rest, drinking water and other fluids and maintaining a normal weight.
Another positive factor is social engagement along with the avoidance of toxic or detrimental relationships.
“Don’t count the days, make the days count.” — Muhammed Ali
Finally, having a purpose in life with the belief that existence can powerfully motivate positive and forward movement. This can help considerably in overcoming obstacles and challenges and increasing longevity.
So on World Cancer Day, pray for those who are battling cancer. Contribute (if you are able) to organizations that fund research for finding cures. Be grateful for the gift of good health. And make the most of every breath you take and every moment you have to live.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
— Headline image: Image courtesy of Laurie Edwards-Tate. © 2020 by Laurie Edwards-Tate.