February 4 is observed as World Cancer Day in order to raise awareness about cancer and reduce the stigma that surrounds the disease that is the second leading cause of deaths globally.
This international day is a ‘global uniting initiative’ led by the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) and is meant to encourage the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer as early as possible.
World Cancer Day was first established at the World Cancer Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium held in Paris, on February 4, 2000. This day celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the ‘Charter of Paris Against Cancer’ by the General Director of UNESCO, Kōichirō Matsuura and the French President Jacques Chirac.
The observance of World Cancer Day is centred around reducing the global impact that cancer has and in providing support for cancer patients and survivors through catalysing personal, collective and government action. World Cancer Day also targets misinformation and stigma about cancer.
In India, the most common types of cancer are breast, oral, cervical, lung, stomach and colorectal cancer, making it imperative to provide people with the correct information and healthcare in time.
As a day observed by the United Nations, World Cancer Day seeks to unite the international community in support of those affected by cancer and also calls to all global citizens to take action against this disease.
World Cancer Day has been observed keeping in mind certain themes that would guide the agenda of the celebrations and campaigns.
In 2019, the theme ‘I Am and I Will’ was introduced and was to be carried on till 2021. This multi-year campaign has been focused on the community as a whole and the actions that each individual can take towards reducing the global impact of cancer.
According to the World Cancer Day website, the primary goal is to focus on positive actions in order to reach the ‘target of reducing the number of premature deaths from cancer and noncommunicable diseases by 1/3 by 2030’.