National Cancer Awareness Day 2023: Cause and preventive measures

National Cancer Awareness Day is a yearly observance in India, marked on November 7th each year since 2014. Its main objective is to raise public awareness about the significance of early detection, prevention, and treatment of cancer. Globally, cancer is a major health concern and ranks as the second leading cause of death, responsible for nearly one out of every six deaths, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2020, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) World Cancer Report revealed that Asia carries a substantial burden of cancer cases, accounting for 49.3% of the global total. The report also projected a 59.2% increase in new cancer cases in Asia between 2020 and 2040. It emphasized that one in ten Indians would develop cancer during their lifetime, with one in fifteen ultimately succumbing to the disease.

National Cancer Awareness Day 2023

National Cancer Awareness Day 2023

Wockhart Hospitals reported that India witnesses approximately 1.1 million new cancer cases each year, with a significant portion of these cases being diagnosed in advanced stages. National Cancer Awareness Day was formally declared by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the Union Health Minister, in September 2014. Since then, it has been observed annually, with a focus on early cancer detection to enhance the chances of successful treatment. According to WHO, cancer encompasses a diverse range of diseases that can originate in nearly any organ or tissue in the body. It involves the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, which can breach their usual boundaries, invade neighboring body parts, and spread to other organs. This process, known as metastasis, is a leading cause of death associated with cancer.

In men, the most common types of cancer include lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer, while women commonly experience breast, colorectal, lung, cervical, and thyroid cancer. The genesis of cancer involves the transformation of normal cells into tumor cells, typically progressing through various stages from pre-cancerous conditions to malignant tumors. The choices people make in their lifestyle also have a significant impact on their risk of developing cancer. It is well-established that factors such as being overweight and leading a sedentary life are associated with breast and colorectal cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the risk of cancer can be mitigated by:

  1. Abstaining from tobacco use.
  2. Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  3. Incorporating a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Engaging in regular physical activity.
  5. Limiting or abstaining from alcohol consumption.
  6. Receiving vaccinations against HPV and hepatitis B.
  7. Minimizing exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which includes avoiding excessive sun exposure and refraining from using artificial tanning devices.
  8. Ensuring the safe and appropriate use of radiation in healthcare, both for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
  9. Reducing exposure to both outdoor and indoor air pollution.

National Cancer Awareness Day serves as an occasion for healthcare organizations, governmental agencies, and non-profit groups to collaborate on awareness campaigns, seminars, and screening events. These efforts are aimed at increasing awareness about cancer and working towards reducing the burden of cancer nationwide.