World Cancer Day, an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), is celebrated annually on the fourth of February. The day reminds us of the once unsurmountable disease, which affects men, women and children. Fortunately, it can today be cured quite often if diagnosed and treated early.
This year's World Cancer Day focusses on dispelling four myths associated with cancer, with the theme: Debunk the myths.
The first myth: We do not need to talk about cancer.
There are a lot of things a common person may not know about cancer
. For example, screening for cancer should be done on a regular basis so that a cancer can be detected in the curable stage. Patients may also find it embarrassing to talk about cancers that affect the breast or the genitals. At the same time, they would feel much better talking about their condition to someone. It is therefore necessary to encourage individuals to talk about cancer and spread information about the need for early diagnosis as well as provide information and support to cancer patients and their caregivers. The second myth: There are no signs and symptoms of cancer.
Though this statement may be true for some cancers, there are many other cancers that provide warning signs; however, we should be alert enough to recognize these signs and undergo further testing if necessary. Primary health care workers should be trained to recognize any signs and symptoms of possible cancer and carry out simple screening tests
like clinical breast examination
and Pap's smear
. The third myth: There is nothing I can do about cancer.
This statement was possibly true in earlier days, however, a lot has changed today. Information is now available of how to prevent cancer. For example, avoiding smoking
can reduce your chances of lung cancer; an HPV vaccine
can protect girls from cervical cancer. The fourth myth: I don't have the right to cancer care.
Every person should have equal rights to the latest in cancer care
. Many times, people do not receive adequate treatment because of poverty or inaccessibility to treatment. However, it is necessary that countries ensure that equal treatment is available to all cancer patients
irrespective of their socioeconomic background.
It's time to educate ourselves as well as others on how to keep this deadly disease at bay!