Why a National Cancer Day Is Important & How to Support World Cancer Day

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Cancer is a disease that affects millions of families, and the numbers are growing. The American Cancer Society projected that 1.65 million new cancer cases would be diagnosed in the United States in 2015. It's estimated that by 2025, 19.3 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed annually, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those numbers alone emphasize the importance of early detection and good health, and events like a fundraiser or national cancer day can raise awareness among the public. One such event is World Cancer Day, started by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) in 2008 with the intent to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer. Each year on World Cancer Day (occurring this year on February 4), citizens worldwide join together to increase global awareness of the disease. It's a call to action to reduce cancer deaths by 25 percent by 2025, says the UICC.

The UICC is a membership organization that was founded in 1933. Based in Geneva, it includes over 800 organizations across 155 countries, who work as a coalition to address the crisis of cancer on a global level. Some members of the UICC include the world's major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes and patient groups who then link together with individual members, key partners, the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The Importance of Raising Awareness

Cancer is not only a health concern, it's a complex issue that also involves social, economic, developmental and human rights. The numbers listed above are alarming, yet one of the main goals of World Cancer Day is for people around the world to be aware that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Today, some cancers that were once considered deadly are treatable (and in some cases, curable). The advancements in understanding risk factors, along with prevention, early detection and rapid treatment have improved cancer management. If you're hoping to raise awareness in your home, neighborhood or business, the UICC offers fact sheets, posters, postcards and toolkits that equip you with all the information you need.

Ensuring Early Detection

Cancer screenings are one of the easiest and least expensive procedures health professionals can perform during patient care. As a dental health care provider, I have found a consistent oral cancer screening routine is essential to be sure all structures are assessed. The earlier a lesion is identified, the greater the prognosis for full patient recovery. A visual oral cancer screening on every patient, every time, is standard operating procedure because it's painless, quick and essentially free to complete. Other cancer screenings may have an associated cost, but in the long-term, will pay out dividends in an early diagnosis and peace of mind.

Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices

The prevention of cancer is also a primary focus of World Cancer Day. Educating patients to make healthier lifestyle choices is the responsibility of every health and dental care provider. Some of these choices include avoiding tobacco use, minimizing alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine and avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight, radiation and air pollution. Recent studies have also shown that taking steps to prevent chronic infection and viral diseases can also decrease one's cancer risk.

Cancer is a condition that requires disease management, treatment and follow-up care. Along with surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, cancer therapies can often cause sore, inflamed gum tissue. The treatment of this condition is new to patients who never experienced oral complications before having cancer. Dental professionals should recommend the use of a soft bristled toothbrush and other sensitivity-specific products, like Colgate® Sensitive Complete Protection Toothpaste, if you experience this.

Cancer is a condition that affects millions of Americans, and with events like National Cancer Day, everyone can lend a hand. Increasing cancer awareness, completing routine cancer screenings and teaching prevention techniques are ways communities can decrease the likelihood of cancer.