World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day takes place every year on February 4th, as a way of raising awareness, educating people and encouraging governments/organisations to do the same. According to the Union for International Cancer Control, 9,6 million people die each year from cancer. It is an extremely worrying epidemic. And contrary to what many of us believe, one-third of cancers could be prevented. The same organisation believes that up to 3,7 million people could survive each year if there were “appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection, and treatment”. It is crucial to help cancer victims with physical and emotional burdens.

Throughout February, many activities will take place to support this initiative. You can find a map with the events happening over the world on the World Cancer Day website.

However, more than knowing how to support this initiative, it is crucial to know more about this disease. So, what exactly happens to our bodies when we suffer from cancer? Cancer happens when cells grow and multiply, forming a tumour. This occurs in all kinds of cancer, except leukaemia. When not detected/treated in time, the tumour can grow, spread to other parts of the body and affect body systems (immune system, blood circulation, etc). Cancer tumorous can have three levels: benign, malignant, and precancerous.

Some risk factors increase the chances of developing cancer. Among many others you can find: family cancer history or inherited genes; smoking; increased age; being overweight/obese; alcohol usage; exposure to radiation or even pollution…

It is also important to be aware of different symptoms, such as:

Weight loss for no apparent reason. It is very common for people with cancer to lose weight. It is most likely to occur in lung, stomach or pancreatic cancer.

Tiredness. When someone suffers from cancer, it is normal to feel tired, even after resting.

Pain. A prolonged headache may be a sign of a brain tumour. Back pain is linked with ovarian/colon cancer. Most of the time, when there is pain it means cancer has spread.

Fever. When suffering from cancer, it is very common to have it, but it may mean that the cancer has spread. It may be an early symptom of leukaemia/lymphoma.

Skin changes. It may include skin redness, itchy skin, and darker spots, etc.

Therefore, if you notice any of these symptoms or you are concerned about the chances of suffering from the disease, contact a doctor. As we said before, early detection usually means greater chances of success.

References:

  1. I AM AND I WILL, World Cancer Day
  2. Cancer, September 2018, World Health Organization
  3. Cancer Basics, Cancer.Net