On February 4 every year, we recognize World Cancer Day as a global initiative to raise awareness about cancer as well as promote the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. This year is the 20th anniversary of its establishment, but the beginnings of World Cancer Day can be traced to decades earlier.
In 1933 at a cancer congress in Madrid, Spain, Dr. Jacques Bandaline introduced a motion to create an international organization designed to facilitate the “fight against cancer.” His motion passed unanimously and the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the organization responsible for overseeing World Cancer Day today, was born.
“We unite and support the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to ensure that cancer control continues to be a priority in the world health and development agenda.”
In the year 2000, Paris hosted the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium. At this summit, the world’s leading cancer experts drafted the Charter of Paris Against Cancer, which had as its overarching goals the promotion of cancer research, prevention of cancer and improvement of services for cancer patients. This charter also officially established World Cancer Day to commemorate the signing of the document on February 4, 2000, again, to be overseen by the UICC.
“Recognising the declaration by all appropriate institutions that February 4 shall be marked as ‘World Cancer Day’ so that each year, the Charter of Paris will be in the hearts and minds of people around the world.”
The UICC has continued to grow over time and now boasts a membership encompassing over 1,100 organizations in more than 170 countries. It includes a wide range of groups representing different cancer stakeholders, ranging from cancer societies to governmental health bureaucracies and cancer patients.
As part of its stewardship of World Cancer Day, the UICC organizes each year (or a short range of years) under the banner of a particular theme. UICC is currently in the middle of a three-year arc in which the theme is “I Am and I Will.”
The campaign is designed to resonate with people, inspire real change and mobilize people to take action with an empowering call to action that will hopefully reverberate past the actual day. It acknowledges that everyone has the capacity to act in the face of cancer.
Today, on World Cancer Day, we should take a moment to savor the accomplishments of the past 20 years and honor the passion and dedication of those committed to fighting cancer. The progress has been significant:
Despite these wonderful advances, there is still much to be done. As recently as 2019, the World Health Organization cited cancer as a continuing top 10 threat to public health all over the globe. Challenges remain for the future:
We need to hold on to the driving passion that made the advances of the past 20 years possible as we face these challenges.
Here at Escalent, we take a deeply personal approach to research, especially in the field of oncology. We bring our passionate curiosity to our work every day and are proud of our engagement in this challenging field. Please join us in celebrating the progress achieved so far on this World Cancer Day 2020 and committing to the difference we can all make for the future of cancer.