Sooner or later, it seems, cancer has an impact on us all. That’s why World Cancer Day on February 4 is an important day to raise awareness about prevention, detection, and treatment. Started by the Union for International Cancer Control in 2008, World Cancer Day activities seek to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer by 2020.
When is World Cancer Day 2024?
World Cancer Day is observed worldwide on February 4. The aim is to inform and encourage people on its prevention, early detection, and treatment. This initiative was taken by the Union for International Cancer Control to campaign and advocate for the targets of the World Cancer Declaration, penned in 2008.
History of World Cancer Day
According to the World Health Organization, Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) was established in 1993. Based in Geneva, it is a membership-based society working towards the eradication of cancer around the world and advancing medical research. Under its direction, the first International Cancer Day was celebrated in Geneva, Switzerland in the same year. Several well-known organizations, cancer societies, and treatment centers also supported this initiative.
World Cancer Day was made official at the first World Summit Against Cancer in 2000. The event took place in Paris and was attended by members of cancer organizations and prominent government leaders from around the world. A document titled the ‘Charter of Paris Against Cancer,’ featuring 10 articles, was signed, outlining a global commitment to improving the facilitation and quality of life of cancer patients. Advancement and increased investment in researching, preventing, and treating cancer was also highlighted. Article X of this charter officially declared World Cancer Day to be observed on February 4.
Cancer has numerous types, so there are various colors and symbols used to mark a specific type of cancer and promote the fight against it. For example, the orange ribbon is for creating awareness of cancer in children, while the pink ribbon is globally associated with breast cancer awareness. As a symbol of hope for patients and survivors, the daffodil flower is used by the American Cancer Society for a future where this life-threatening disease no longer exists.
On this day, hundreds of events and fundraisers take place around the world each year, to bring individuals, communities, and organizations together in hospitals, schools, businesses, markets, community halls, parks, etc. to campaign and deliver the powerful reminder that those hit by cancer are not alone, and we all share a responsibility in reducing the global impact of this disease.
World Cancer Day timeline
World Cancer Day was declared at the World Cancer Summit Against Cancer in Paris, France.
In Nicaragua, World Cancer Day catalyzed an international collaboration to create better access to cancer treatment centers within the country.
The theme for World Cancer Day this year was ‘Not Beyond Us.’
To support the cause, 37 cities around the world decorated important landmarks with orange and blue lighting.
World Cancer Day Traditions
World Cancer Day is not limited to medical centers and international organizations. People, local businesses, corporations, and governments all come together to inform the general public about the types of cancer, how to be aware of it, and the potential treatments and measures to be taken in case of detection. Advertisements and important announcements are made over radio, television, print, and social media. Fundraisers, luncheons, and dinners are held with prominent speakers often being present at these events.
World Cancer Day FAQs
Why do we celebrate Cancer Day?
Every year World Cancer Day is celebrated on 4 February. The purpose of the UICC is to support the World Cancer Declaration. The primary purpose of celebrating this day is to reduce the number of cancer patients and to reduce the death rate causing due to it.
What is the theme for World Cancer Day 2021?
World Cancer Day 2021 is led by the theme “I Am and I Will”, an empowering call for personal commitment that represents the power of our actions taken now to reduce the growing impact of cancer.
Who started Cancer Day?
The Charter of Paris Against Cancer, which was created to promote research, prevent cancer, improve patient services, also included an article establishing the anniversary of the document’s official signing as World Cancer Day, was signed at the Summit by the then General Director of UNESCO, Kōichirō Matsuura.
How to Observe World Cancer Day
Join the #WeCanIcan, Support Through Sport, and Thunderclap campaigns on social media. For the more adventurous, you can also check out #nohairselfie on Facebook or Twitter.
Take a moment and commit
Take a moment to reflect on cancer's impact on you — and commit to taking positive action, whether it is donating time or money, scheduling a doctor's appointment, or making a healthier choice at mealtime today.
Reach out and remember
Take a moment to connect with your loved ones who have been touched by the big "C."
5 Key Facts About Cancer
It has a staggering death toll rate
Cancer has a staggering death-toll rate — every year, 9.6 million people die from cancer.
It can be prevented
About one-third of common cancers are preventable and treatable.
It is a major cause of death
Cancer is the second most common cause of death around the world.
Income is a factor
70% of deaths by cancer occur in lower-income countries.
It doesn’t just physically take its toll.
The total economic cost of cancer annually is around $1.16 trillion.
Why World Cancer Day is Important
One-third of the most common cancers can be prevented
There is a lot that can be done at an individual, community, and policy level with the right strategies for cancer prevention. Taking the time to understand what you, your family, and your community can do to make a difference can have a huge impact on just one person.
Cancer does have warning signs
For many cancers, there are warning signs and symptoms and the benefits of early detection are indisputable. As busy as you may be, taking time to get that check-up and speak with your doctor can help create awareness and peace of mind.
Talking about cancer can actually help everyone heal
While cancer can be a difficult topic to address, particularly in some cultures and settings, dealing with the disease openly can improve outcomes at an individual, community, and policy level. Knowing where to go for help and being part of a larger support network can help everyone feel part of the solution.
World Cancer Day dates