Cancer effects millions of people; those who are fighting their battle against the disease and those who are close to them and support them. It is a battle that rages on while medical professionals and researchers work tirelessly to find a cure. Meanwhile, raising awareness to cancer is one way people can learn more about the disease and not only help learn about the causes, but treatments and early detection. There are many different foundations and organizations that work towards educating the public and raising money to help in research efforts and the cure for cancer. The importance of educating the public has grown to such heights that an entire day has been set aside and dedicated specifically to creating an awareness for cancer.
World Cancer Day
World Cancer Day is an international day and is recognized every year on February 4. It was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). The UICC’s sole purpose is to support the World Cancer Declaration and their goals of reducing cancer causing illness and the number of deaths caused by cancer by 2020. The goals were penned in 2008, and since then, World Cancer Day has already made a global impact by beginning the process of raising an awareness of cancer and educate the public.
Why is Cancer awareness so important?
Many people who are given the diagnosis of cancer, no matter what type, have the same reaction, that they wish they’d known. But known what? Many wish they’d known more about the causes of their type of cancer. And most of all, many wish they had known what to look for, for earlier detection of the cancer.
Spreading the awareness of types of cancer and how to prevent them is the first step. However, because cancers can grow despite preventative measures, recognizing early signs of different types of cancers is critical in getting treatment as soon as possible. Early detection has been deemed the best cure for cancer by cancer specialists because the sooner cancer is detected, the better the chances are of treating it and preventing its progression and spreading beyond treatable measures.
Types of cancer
There are many types of cancer with some forms being more common than others. Certain types of cancer will produce their own specific symptoms that are recognizable while other symptoms may go unnoticed. There are also certain symptoms that can be universal for many types of cancer, especially once the cancer grows to reach a certain stage. Cancers can start anywhere in the body and they are named from the origin in which they began to grow.
Some of the most common types of cancer include: Breast cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, colon or colorectal cancer, blood cancers, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, brain cancer, pancreatic cancer and liver cancer.
Treatment depends on the type of cancer as well as what stage of growth the cancer is in when it’s detected. Cancers are graded in 4 stages according to how early, or far along it is in its growth when it is diagnosed. The earliest detection of growth is Stage I, which is that the cancer is contained in the original area. Stage II, it may have spread out just beyond the organ of origin. Stage III, it has migrated out further still, possibly into the lymph nodes or another major organ and Stage IV, it has metastasized to several major organs such as the liver or lungs. The first three stages are then broken down into further subdivisions, A, B, and C levels.
Early detection of cancer is the number one cure
Treatment for cancer varies on the type of cancer as well as what stage the cancer is in at the time of diagnosis. Cancer found in its earliest stage will be a less aggressive form of treatment compared to cancer detected in its latter stages. This is one reason why early detection is important. Stage I cancers may require surgery to remove the cancer from the localized organ or area of the body, accompanied with some mild treatment of chemicals while the later it is in its growth can require major surgery with long rounds of harsh chemicals and blasts hard radiation treatments.
As hard as the treatments may sound and be in the later stages, the even bigger reality of finding cancer early is the impact on survival rates. The earlier cancer is found and treatment begins, the greater the chances are of survival. For instance, with early detection of ovarian cancer or tumors in Stage I or II, the survival rate at ten years post diagnosis is high at about 90%. As the diagnosis of the cancer moves into Stages III and IV, the survival rate significantly falls to just 20% and then down to 10%. Ovarian cancer happens to be one of the cancers that isn’t typically detected until the latter stages.
We know that early treatment of cancers can dramatically increase one’s chances for survival, however, one of the biggest challenges of starting early treatment is the early detection. Billions of dollars are spent on cancer research and treatment for those who are already in their late stages of cancer, trying to save them, and many times, to no avail. This way of approaching cancer has been in play since President Richard Nixon initiated this war against cancer back in 1971 which has only yielded an 8% decrease in the cancer mortality rate.
The UICC wants to see more emphasis put on research into early detection for early treatment to start to turn the survival rate around. Finding better and more efficient ways of detecting the different types of cancers in their early stages as well as teaching the public how to recognize the early signs of cancers, is the most effective way of curing cancer. The sooner you know, the sooner you treat and the longer you live. It’s just that simple.