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World Cancer Day

Feb 3, 2019

On Monday 4th February, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) asks individuals, organisations and governments around the globe to come together in support of World Cancer Day. The day is held each year as a form of education and awareness for cancer, in the hope of saving millions of preventable deaths each year.

The theme for World Cancer Day this year is ‘I am and I will’. It aims to empower individuals, reinforcing that no matter who you are, you have the influence to reduce the impact of cancer not only for yourself, but for the people you love and ultimately, the world.

Fast Facts

  • 9.6 million people die from cancer every year
  • Experts project cancer deaths will to rise to 13 million by 2030
  • Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide
  • The total annual economic cost of cancer is estimated at approximately US$1.16 trillion
  • 70% of cancer deaths occur in low-to-middle income countries
  • Less than 30% of low-income countries have cancer treatment services available (compared to 90% in high-income countries)
  • Smoking is linked to 71% of lung cancer deaths and accounts for 21% of all cancer deaths

So what can we actually do to have an influence over these statistics? The UICC encourages individuals, organisations and governments to:

Increase awareness

Through raising the public and political literacy and understanding around cancer, we reduce fear, increase understanding, dispel myths and misconceptions, and change behaviours and attitudes. 

  • Governments and organisations can develop strategies that increase awareness and education, as well as express the value of early detection.
  • As individuals, we can teach ourselves and the people we love about the common signs and symptoms.

Prevention and risk reduction

Living a healthy lifestyle is the most effective way to reduce the risk of cancer. Increased physical activity, avoiding alcohol, tobacco and prolonged sun exposure can reduce your risk of cancer.

  • Governments and organisations can introduce programs that educate people on living active, healthy lifestyles. LiveLighter is a great initiative from the Cancer Council that provides healthy recipes, meal plans, and many other tools and resources that support you to live a healthy lifestyle.
  • You can also check your cancer risk using Cancer Australia’s online risk tool. Once you have assessed your cancer risk, find out how you can make healthy changes to your lifestyle via the Lifestyle & risk reduction page.

Seek opportunities to speak up

We all can create and seek opportunities to speak up in order to raise awareness and offer support to those who may be living with cancer. Starting a conversation around important issues in cancer is incredibly powerful. By speaking with each other, we can create change. As a part of World Cancer Day, the UICC offers a range of documents detailing how you as an individual can offer your support. For more information, visit

Need support?

Cancer Council 13 11 20 is a free, confidential telephone information and support service. Anyone can call 13 11 20 – cancer patients, people living with cancer, their families, carers and friends, teachers, students and healthcare professionals. Specially trained staff are available to answer your questions about cancer and offer emotional or practical support.

Cancer Council also provides online support through the Cancer Council Online Community, where you can ask questions and participate in groups, forums and blogs.

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