World Cancer Day Promotes Screening, Early Detection

The Empire State Building was lit blue and orange for the evening of Feb. 3 to mark the day, for the second year in a row.

Feb. 4 is World Cancer Day, an occasion when public health groups such as the American Cancer Society call attention the deaths caused by cancer and encourage people to be screened and aid in early detection of cancers.

The World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer support the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), which organizes World Cancer Day, and efforts to ease the global burden of cancer. The The Empire State Building was lit blue and orange, the UICC colors, for the evening of Feb. 3 to mark the day. This year, when the day has been given the theme "Together it is Possible," WHO and IARC will focus on screening and vaccination.

They call for increased access to cost-effective vaccinations and cost-effective cancer-screening programs worldwide. Vaccination is available against cervical cancer caused by the human papilloma virus and liver cancer caused by the hepatitis B virus. Cervical cancer is the second-most-common cancer in women worldwide, with more than 500,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Liver cancer killed 700,000 people in 2008; hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) account for 78 percent of liver cancer cases.

ACS says 7.6 million lives are lost annually to cancer worldwide -– more than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined -– according to the UICC. Communities are observing the day by holding film screenings, seminars, public information campaigns, and other events to raise awareness.

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