Why World Cancer Day?


Photo courtesy of National Cancer Institute, Unsplash

Gracie Burgess, Staff Writer

Feb. 4 marks World Cancer Day, a day first honored in the 2000s in Paris, France. This is a day that is used to raise awareness for cancer and its prevention all around the world. Cancer has impacted the lives of thousands around the world. Some have been diagnosed with cancer themselves and some know a family member or a friend that has been impacted. Many people also know of someone who has passed away because of a cancer diagnosis. World Cancer Day is led by the Union for International Cancer Control, which takes initiative in spreading the message of cancer and ways to prevent the diseases caused by cancer. One goal of the Union for International Cancer Control is to integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda.

“I believe World Cancer Day is to raise awareness on cancer prevention, education, screening and treatment,” Marieb College of Health and Human Services Associate Professor, Dr.Payal Kahar, said.

Cancer is defined by National Cancer Institute (NCI) as “a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body.” These cells that the NCI is referring to are abnormal cells that have gone under some form of mutation and are harmful to the body in its reproduction. Once cancer cells form, they can slowly, or quickly, spread to other parts of the body and cause disturbances to other organs and spreading cancerous cells.

“I think awareness of the different types of cancer and its causes is a great starting point,” Marieb College of Health and Human Services Associate Professor, Dr. Shelby Gilbert, said. “While we might not be able to prevent all forms, there are certainly some healthy behaviors we can adopt to reduce the risk of some forms of cancer.”

Senior Christine Pilnacek has experienced the tragic loss of someone close to her due to cancer. While these times are hard, many out there have experienced similar trials with cancer. Many other students all around campus have had experiences with cancer in a loved one.

“My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Pilnacek said. “She was in her early twenties. Because of her age, it was dismissed by her doctor and spread to her lymph nodes. She passed shortly after that. I hope her story and World Cancer Day bring greater awareness to this disease.”

Many around the world are impacted by cancer every day. While some experience it to a greater extent than others, it has impacted their life and the lives of those around them to some degree.

“Cancer prevention in community education and screening made available to all can slow the spread of cancer,” Kahar said.

World Cancer Day means to raise awareness of all forms of cancer. By researching and following the public health guidelines for the prevention and screenings of cancer, we can slow the rate at which those are impacted. In situations like those stated above, cancer can spread throughout the body very quickly and at some point, the spread is hard to stop and contain. It is important that screening is regularly done and if there are any abnormalities, they are taken to a doctor.

 “Being there for that person is common advice, that most people suggest, and I do as well,” Pilnacek said. “Also, most people are unaware of the end-of-life resources that are available for both the patient and their family/friends. By reaching out to the patient’s care team for information on these resources you can make the transition, not easier, but more peaceful for everyone.”

To find out more about World Cancer Day and how you can support, visit: https://www.worldcancerday.org/