If cancer has affected you or someone in your life in some way, you know how important it is to combat this terrible disease, and you probably want to ensure that, during these events, you are genuinely making a difference. For the benefit of all cancer patients, survivors, friends, and family members, we have some information and advice to ensure you can help make these cancer awareness days count and even help save lives.
The Importance of Cancer Awareness Day
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
Why Is World Cancer Day Important?
Cancer is a disease that affects a lot of people. It's the second leading cause of death in the US, and perhaps it has even affected you.
- Cancer.gov predicts the number of new cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 29.5 million and the number of cancer-related deaths to 16.4 million by 2040.
- The American Cancer Society estimates about 54,010 new oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer cases and about 10,850 deaths for the year 2021.
When Are Cancer Awareness Days?
- World Cancer Day – February 4th
- Oral Cancer Awareness Month – April
- National Cancer Survivor Day – 1st Sunday in June
Tap here for a full list of cancer awareness dates.
How Does Raising Awareness Help?
Awareness days can effectively increase discourse, but more action can help. For instance, these days often focus solely on awareness-raising behaviors (e.g., encouraging people to wear a particular color that day), and not enough people take actionable measures.
Wearing a particular color can be a valuable act of empathy, solidarity, and comfort, but there is an important lesson to be learned here. If you're taking part in cancer awareness activities, having some specific goals in mind that you want to contribute to achieving can be even more impactful.
How to Raise Awareness
There are plenty of ways you can raise awareness about cancer:
- Post on social media
- Discuss with friends, family, and coworkers
- Attend or hold events
- Call or email politicians
- Write blog posts or articles for your local paper
- Reach out to local journalists
- Make donations
Cancer is still one of the most serious problems facing the world today. Advancements in science and medicine, public awareness of risk factors, preventative measures, and the importance of early detection have all contributed to greater treatment success, faster recovery, and survival.
World Cancer Day Initiatives
The World Cancer Day initiative offers many ways to help make real change across the globe by improving education and catalyzing personal, collective and government action. Some of these actions include:
- Increasing knowledge about prevention
- Promoting equal access to cancer diagnoses and treatment
- Reducing the economic and financial impact of cancer
What Preventative Measures Can You Take?
There are many steps you can take in your life to improve your health and wellbeing and to decrease your risk of getting cancer, like:
- Avoiding tobacco products
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Limiting processed meats in your diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Protecting yourself from the sun
- Vaccinating yourself against viral infections
- Practicing safe sex
- Not sharing needles
- Performing regular self-exams
- Visiting with your doctor and dentist regularly for checkups
- And practicing good oral hygiene
Oral cancer shares many risk factors with other cancers. Increased awareness about oral cancer is essential to promote early detection.
How Does Cancer Treatment Affect Your Mouth?
Certain oral complications may occur as a result of cancer treatments. Visiting a trusted dental professional before beginning treatment for cancer can help you develop a plan that keeps your oral health in tip-top shape.
Some cancer therapy side-effects you'll need to look out for include:
- Tooth decay and gum disease
- Inflammation in the mouth
- Dry mouth
- Loss or changes in taste
- Mouth and jaw pain
Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer develops in the lips, tongue, inner cheeks, gums, the floor of the mouth, throat and sinuses. An oral cancer screening should be part of a routine oral exam. Schedule an appointment with a dental professional if any of the following oral cancer symptoms last more than two weeks:
- Mouth pain
- Lip or mouth sores that don't heal
- Difficulty swallowing
- Soreness in the back of the throat
- Lumps in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Oral thrush
- Loss of feeling in the mouth
- Ear pain
Practicing Good Oral Hygiene
Proper oral hygiene behaviors for reducing risks for oral cancer may include the following:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day
- Using a tongue scraper once a day
- Rinsing with an antimicrobial mouth wash
- Having an oral cancer screening by your dental professional at check-up appointments
Cancer awareness days are a valuable tool for combating some of the world's most serious issues. Whether you donate money to charitable foundations, volunteer your time, or spread the word about a cause you care about, contributions of every size have a real impact on decreasing cancer prevalence—and that's something to smile about for everyone.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.