World Cancer Day 2013: Dispelling Myths & Misconceptions About “The Enemy Within”

1.5 million premature cancer deaths could be prevented each year if targets set to reduce non-communicable diseases are met by 2025.  Today, on World Cancer Day, the Union for International Cancer Control and the International Agency for Research on Cancer reveal the real life impact of achieving this goal.

World Cancer Day 2013

WCD_Logo_RGB_2012 (1)

“… 1.5 million people saved from an early death due to cancer is equal to the entire populations of Philadelphia, Auckland, Barcelona or Maputo each and every year.”

World Cancer Day is the one initiative under which the entire world can unite in the fight against the global cancer epidemic.It takes place every year on February 4th. World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.

World Cancer Day is an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), a leading international non-governmental organization dedicated to the prevention and control of cancer worldwide. Founded in 1933 and based in Geneva, UICC’s growing membership of over 765 organizations across 155 countries, features the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes, treatment centers, and patient groups. Additionally, the organization is a founding member of the NCD Alliance, a global civil society network that now represents almost 3,000 organizations in 170 countries.

Target “25 by 25:” Reduce 25% of Premature Non-Communicable Disease Deaths by 2025

The UICC and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) today announced that 1.5 million lives which would be lost to cancer, could be saved each year if decisive measures are taken to achieve the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “25 by 25” target; to reduce premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer, by 25% by 2025.

Currently, 7.6 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years). So unless urgent action is taken to raise awareness about the disease and to develop practical strategies to address cancer, by 2025, this is projected to increase to an alarming 6 million premature cancer deaths per year.

“The estimate of 1.5 million lives lost per year to cancer that could be prevented must serve to galvanize our efforts in implementing the WHO’s ‘25 by 25’ target,” said Dr.  Christopher Wild, Director of IARC. “There is now a need for a global commitment to help drive advancements in policy and encourage implementation of comprehensive National Cancer Control Plans. If we are to succeed in this, we have a collective responsibility to support low- and middle-income countries who are tackling a cancer epidemic with insufficient resources.”

The 1.5 million lives lost per year represent 25% of the estimated 6 million premature cancer deaths that will occur by 2025, and the 6 million figure is itself based on population projections of current numbers and aging.

“Cancer — Did You Know?”

On World Cancer Day, UICC and its members are urging the public and governments alike to speak out with one voice to dispel damaging myths and misconceptions on cancer. Under the theme “Cancer – Did you know?” individuals and communities are encouraged to shed light on four key cancer “myths” and the corresponding “truth” via the UICC World Cancer Day Facebook App.

Myth #1: Cancer is just a health issue.

Truth #1: Cancer is not just a health issue. It has wide-reaching social, economic, development and human rights implications.


Myth #2: Cancer is primarily a disease of the wealthy, elderly, and developed countries.

Truth #2: Cancer is a global epidemic, affecting all ages and socio-economic groups, with developing countries bearing a disproportionate burden.


Myth #3: Cancer is a death sentence.

Truth #3: Many cancers that were once considered a death sentence can now be cured and for many more people their cancer can now be treated effectively.


Myth #4: Cancer is my fate.

Truth #4: With the right strategies, at least 30% of cancer cases can be prevented based on current knowledge.


Mr. Cary Adams, UICC Chief Exective Officer said:

“This World Cancer Day UICC, its members and partners urge everyone from individuals to governments to take a stand against damaging myths on cancer. By truly understanding this deadly disease, governments can develop appropriate strategies to reduce premature deaths and reach the WHO ‘25 by 25’ goal. The figures today announced by IARC and UICC reveal the fundamental human value of achieving this target. 1.5 million people saved from an early death due to cancer is equal to the entire populations of Philadelphia, Auckland, Barcelona or Maputo each and every year.”

What Can You Do?

In 2008, UICC developed the World Cancer Declaration as a tool to help bring the growing cancer crisis to the attention of government leaders and health policymakers. The 11 Declaration targets, designed to significantly reduce the global cancer burden by 2020, have served as the basis for UICC recommendations to the WHO. This year’s goal — #5 Declaration target — is to dispel damaging cancer myths and misconceptions. The Declaration, with more than half a million signatories, has also been instrumental in generating political will for cancer control targets both at the United Nations and grassroots levels. In close collaboration with the NCD Alliance, UICC played a key role recently in securing WHO’s global health target of a 25% reduction in premature deaths from NCDs by 2025 (known as “25 by 25”), at the World Health Assembly in May 2012 – demonstrating the important role advocacy plays in the global flight against cancer.

To sign the World Cancer Declaration, click here.

To download the World Cancer Day Facebook App, and play your part in reducing the unacceptable burden of cancer, visit

Review and circulate the cancer truth fact sheets hyperlinked above under the “Cancer — Did You Know?” section of this article.

For more ideas on how you can get involved and take local action against the global crisis of cancer, visit

Understanding Cancer:  “The Enemy Within” Documentary

In the documentary posted below, Vivienne Parry OBE tells the incredible story of our fight against cancer over the last 50 years. Through the eyes of scientists, researchers, and patients, we see how far we have come and how far we have yet to go, including contributions from Professor Robert Weinberg, Professor Umberto Veronesi, Lord Ara Darzi, Cancer Research UK, David Nathan, M.D., Brian Druker, M.D., and many more.

The film is a non-commercial, editorially independent piece of work which has been supported by Cancer Research UK and funded by an educational grant from Roche. The purpose is to educate and inform those who are affected by cancer. It’s now freely available to all who may want to use it, so please feel free to embed on your own websites and share as you see fit.